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Ambushed by Gaddafi army, rebels retreat from Brega

Video by Nicholas RUSHWORTH


Latest update : 2011-04-04

Rebels who entered the town of Brega on Sunday have withdrawn after being ambushed by forces loyal to Muammar Gaddafi, saying they lacked the training to mount a full frontal assault against the better-equipped Gaddafi troops.

AFP - On the front line, rebels who had entered the eastern town of Brega early on Sunday said they were staging a tactical withdrawal after being ambushed.

An AFP correspondent saw some 300 to 400 fighters regrouping on the road back into rebel-held territory some 10 kilometres (six miles) to the east.

Loud explosions could still be heard from Brega's outskirts as the rebels' best-trained fighters took on the Kadhafi loyalists.

Coalition strikes rebels

REUTERS - A Western coalition air strike hit a group of rebels on the eastern outskirts of Brega late on Friday, killing at least 10 of them, rebel fighters at the scene said on Saturday.

A Reuters correspondent saw the burnt out husks of at least four vehicles including an ambulance by the side of the road near the eastern entrance to the oil town. Men prayed at freshly dug graves nearby.

"Some of Gaddafi's forces sneaked in among the rebels and fired anti-aircraft guns in the air," said rebel fighter Mustafa Ali Omar. "After that the NATO forces came and bombed them."

Most of the rebel volunteers acknowledged they lacked the military training, discipline and knowledge of the terrain to mount a frontal assault on Brega.

They said they were dependent on the rebels' few trained fighters, mostly defectors from the regular army.

"There is no commander. We are all together," said Abdul Wahed Aguri, a 28-year-old.

"We are not army. We can't move closer to Brega because we don't know where the enemy is. We don't know the area. We have to wait for the army (defectors)," he said, adding that could take a whole day.

Intermittent explosions rumbled across the desert landscape as the rebel vanguard traded rocket and artillery fire with Kadhafi forces inside the town.

Aircraft from the NATO-led coalition enforcing a no-fly zone were heard overhead. The rebels said they heard air strikes on loyalist positions in the town overnight, although there was no immediate confirmation from the alliance.

Earlier on Sunday, the rebels pushed forward to seize the vast university campus on Brega's outskirts, an AFP correspondent witnessed before the retreat.

The town has been the scene of intense exchanges for several days, with both sides advancing only to withdraw again later under fire.

Treiki, the latest in a string of officials to abandon the Kadhafi regime, met Arab League chief Amr Mussa for talks in Cairo on Sunday.

Treiki resigned his official duties as an adviser to Kadhafi but did not pledge allegiance to the rebels, Arab League sources said.

He was Tripoli's envoy to the United Nations until 2009 when he became president of the UN General Assembly.

Retired US general James Jones, who until last October was President Barack Obama's national security adviser, said the Libya endgame was more "vital" to Europe than to the United States.

He also acknowledged on Sunday talk shows that Kadhafi's ouster was the ultimate goal in the coalition air campaign.

In other developments on the region, the New York Times reported Washington appears to be backing away from support from Yemen's President Ali Abdullah Saleh in the belief he is unlikely to carry out needed reforms.

The United States said separately Sunday said it authorized family members of US government employees to leave Syria as it heightened a travel warning for the country being roiled by political unrest.

Date created : 2011-04-04


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