Open

Coming up

Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

BUSINESS DAILY

Investors take fright over Google results

Read more

DEBATE

What's Putin's Plan? Kiev Accuses Russia of Terrorism (part 2)

Read more

AFRICA NEWS

Rwandan singer amongst terror plot suspects

Read more

DEBATE

What's Putin's Plan? Kiev Accuses Russia of Terrorism

Read more

FOCUS

Campaigning against Bouteflika's re-election... in France

Read more

WEB NEWS

Chile: Online mobilization to help Valparaiso fire victims

Read more

ENCORE!

Art, sex, money, memory and manga

Read more

MIDDLE EAST MATTERS

Spat over Iran's UN ambassador hampers thawing relations with US

Read more

FOCUS

China trade deal: Is Taiwan's identity under threat?

Read more

  • Algeria heads to the polls: ‘This election has nothing to do with us’

    Read more

  • Frantic search for survivors of sunken South Korea ferry

    Read more

  • Pro-Russian separatists killed in attack on Black Sea base

    Read more

  • India heads to polls in single largest day of voting

    Read more

  • Man executed in Texas for 2002 triple murder

    Read more

  • Scandal-hit French doctor Jacques Servier dies at 92

    Read more

  • Belgian head of wildlife reserve shot in DR Congo

    Read more

  • Crunch talks on Ukraine in Geneva

    Read more

  • Stagehand of God? Maradona's legendary goal inspires a play

    Read more

  • US rolls out red carpet for French critic of capitalism

    Read more

  • N. Korea not amused by London hair salon's Kim Jong-un ad

    Read more

  • Real Madrid beat old foes Barcelona to lift Copa del Rey

    Read more

  • France's new PM targets welfare in drive to cut spending

    Read more

  • Campaigning against Bouteflika's re-election... in France

    Read more

  • Brazil club Mineiro cancel Anelka signing after no-show

    Read more

  • Syria 'torture' photos silence UN Security Council members

    Read more

  • Paris laboratory loses deadly SARS virus samples

    Read more

  • More than 100 schoolgirls kidnapped in northeast Nigeria

    Read more

  • New York police disband unit targeting Muslims

    Read more

  • 'Miracle girl' healthy after seven-organ transplant in Paris

    Read more

  • Paris police memo calling for Roma eviction ‘rectified’

    Read more

  • Burgundy digs into France's bureaucratic 'mille-feuille'

    Read more

  • French court drops ‘hate speech’ case against Bob Dylan

    Read more

  • Algeria rights crackdown slammed ahead of election

    Read more

Africa

Libyan rebels capture strategic refinery

©

Video by Catherine NORRIS TRENT

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2011-08-18

Libya’s insurgency has taken control of an oil refinery in the town of Zawiyah, 50km west of Tripoli, cutting off a key supply route to the capital and increasing the pressure on Colonel Muammar Gaddafi.

REUTERS - Libyan rebels took control of an oil refinery in the western town of Zawiyah and blocked the main highway south of the capital on Thursday, further isolating Muammar Gaddafi's Tripoli stronghold.

Rebel advances in recent days have cut Gaddafi's forces off from their main international resupply routes following a months-long stalemate, putting the Libyan leader's 41-year rule under unprecedented pressure.
 
Confirming reports that, despite their denials, the rebels and Gaddafi loyalists are in negotiations, former French Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin told a French newspaper he was in the Tunisian town of Djerba on Monday to meet both sides.
 
"I was indeed there, but I cannot make any further comment because it would compromise the chances of success and the efficacy of these talks," he told Le Parisien. The talks had been "extremely difficult", he added.
 
The French government declined comment.
 
Rebel fighters occupied Zawiyah refinery, 50 km (30 miles) west of Tripoli on the highway linking the capital to Tunisia. A Reuters reporter at the plant saw no sign of Gaddafi's troops.
 
"The battle lasted for two days but the main battle was last night. We took control last night," said Saleh Omran, 31, a rebel fighter from Zawiyah. He said rebel forces fought about 150 Gaddafi troops, who finally fled by sea in inflatable boats.
 
Doctors at a hospital near Zawiyah said nine people were killed and at least 45 injured in fighting around the town and at the refinery on Wednesday, most of them rebels. A Grad rocket fired by Gaddafi forces had hit a house near the hospital.
 
Road south blocked
 
Rebels also held the town of Garyan, about 80 km (50 miles) from Tripoli on the main highway south, a Reuters reporter said.
 
"We took one tank and an anti-aircraft gun from Gaddafi's forces. Next, we'll go to Tripoli," said a fighter called himself Mohammed. The captured weapons were in the town square.
 
Rebel forces advanced several kilometres north of Garyan later in the day, clashing with pro-Gaddafi fighters. Black smoke billowed from the direction of the fighting and gunfire and the explosions of rockets could be heard.
 
A spokesman for Gaddafi played down recent rebel gains and said the government remained in control of the country.
 
"This is a crisis that will last a few days and then it will be -- God willing -- overcome," said Moussa Ibrahim in remarks carried by JANA news agency on Thursday. "We will push ahead until we liberate the whole country."
 
Gaddafi's whereabouts are unknown.
 
Aided by NATO bombers, assault helicopters and a naval blockade, the rebels have transformed the battle in the last few days after many weeks of stalemate.
 
The United States deployed two more Predator surveillance drones, a U.S. official said on Wednesday.
 
Brega bloodshed
 
On the eastern front, rebel forces said they had tightened their grip around the oil town of Brega, but had suffered high casualties in fighting over the past several days.
 
"All of Alargop is now free, liberated," spokesman Musa Mahmoud al-Mugrabi said of the area 6 km (4 miles) south of Brega, on a supply route for Gaddafi's forces running south.
 
"Casualties have been very high because it's urban clashes," he said. About 40 rebels have been killed and nearly 100 wounded in and around Brega over the past 10 days, according to a tally of reports from the rebels and hospital workers.
 
The 69-year-old Gaddafi seems isolated, with rebel forces closing in and vowing to enter Tripoli by the end of the month. A Reuters reporter in Tripoli, where military targets have been pounded by NATO warplanes for five months, said a few explosions were heard from the center of the city around midday.
 
Rebel forces said they were about 100 km (60 miles) west of the rebel-held port of Misrata on the road to Tripoli.
Zawiyah's refinery was one of the few sources of fuel for Gaddafi's troops and the people of Tripoli. Rebels said the plant was shut but showed no signs of serious damage as much of the fighting was with light weapons. A pipeline linking it to Tripoli was shut down on Tuesday, a rebel commander said.
 
Rebel fighters stripped posters of Gaddafi from a building inside the refinery complex and threw them to the ground.
 
Libyan Prime Minister Al-Baghdadi Ali Al-Mahmoudi denied the refinery was in rebel hands and called for a ceasefire.
 
"In terms of the military, we are indeed powerful enough to finish this battle to our advantage, but the cost would be too high," he told reporters in Tripoli. The Libyan government has said repeatedly it would welcome a ceasefire, on the condition it is preceded by a halt to NATO bombing.
 

 

Date created : 2011-08-18

  • LIBYA

    Rebels vow to mark end of Ramadan without Gaddafi

    Read more

  • LIBYA

    Rebels dismiss reports of secret talks with Gaddafi

    Read more

  • LIBYA

    NATO airstrike killed dozens of civilians, Libya says

    Read more

Comments

COMMENT(S)