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Africa

Libyan forces break through rebel lines in Zawiyah

Video by Olivia SALAZAR WINSPEAR , Antoine MARIOTTI

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2011-03-05

Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi’s forces inflicted a severe setback on rebels Saturday when they closed in on the town of Zawiyah near Tripoli. The rebels also claimed victory in the eastern town of Ras Lanuf.

REUTERS - Libyan forces closed in on the western town of Zawiyah on Saturday after rebels drove them from the centre in fierce fighting, while in the east, opponents of Muammar Gaddafi pushed towards his home town.

 "They entered Zawiyah at six in the morning with heavy forces, hundreds of soldiers with tanks. Our people fought back ...We have won for now and civilians are gathering in the square," said Youssef Shagan, the rebel force spokesman in Zawiyah, 50 km (30 miles) west of the capital Tripoli.
 
Frontline moving west, says FRANCE 24's Cyril Vanier in Libya
People opposed to Gaddafi's 41-year rule have been fighting his forces in Zawiyah for more than a week, after rebels took over swathes of eastern Libya in an uprising inspired by the overthrow of longterm rulers in Egypt and Tunisia this year.
 
Shagan said Gaddafi forces had fired high explosive rounds in central streets and dragged people from their homes. There were many casualties among civilians, rebels and soldiers, he said, although he could not give a precise number.
 
"We captured 3 APCs, two tanks and one pick-up after an hour and a half of fighting," he said, adding that government snipers had taken up positions in Zawiyah.
 
Anti-Gaddafi protesters defy regime in Tripoli, says FRance 24's Catherine Norris-Trent
By mid-morning, the Mediterranean town was encircled by Gaddafi's forces, who were manning checkpoints some 3 km (1.8 miles) from the centre.
 
A rebel fighter in the centre of the Mediterranean town vowed to fight to the death.
 
"Gaddafi will never enter this city. He will never set foot here. The only way for him to enter the city is when we are all dead. He has to kill us all to control the city," the rebel, who gave his name as Ibrahim, said by telephone.
 
Rebels in eastern Libya said they were pushing further west after driving out forces loyal to Gaddafi from the oil town of Ras Lanuf on Friday. They said they had fired on an army helicopter swooping over Ras Lanuf on Saturday.

 

Date created : 2011-03-05

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