The Guardian reports:
Libyan rebels have entered the key oil town of Ras Lanuf after routing Muammar Gaddafi’s forces in Brega with help from UN-backed airstrikes that tipped the balance away from the military.
Brega, the main oil export terminal in eastern Libya, fell after a skirmish late on Saturday, with rebels continuing their push westwards to Ras Lanuf and its large oil refinery. “There is no Gaddafi army in Ras Lanuf,” said rebel fighter Walid al-Arabi, quoting rebels who had returned from the town, and that the frontline was now west of Ras Lanuf.
Earlier, rebel commander Ahmed Jibril, manning a checkpoint on the western edge of Brega, said: “There are no Gaddafi forces here now, the rebels have Brega under their full control, it is free.”
The two oil towns are responsible for a large chunk of Libya’s oil production, which has all but stopped since the uprising that began on 15 February and was inspired by the toppling of governments in Tunisia and Egypt.
The Gaddafi regime on Saturday acknowledged the airstrikes had forced its troops to retreat and accused international forces of choosing sides. “This is the objective of the coalition now, it is not to protect civilians because now they are directly fighting against the armed forces,” Khaled Kaim, the deputy foreign minister, said in the capital, Tripoli. “They are trying to push the country to the brink of a civil war.”