The Economist reports:
To run short of fuel, as Field-Marshal Rommel discovered in 1942, can be fatal to a military campaign in north Africa. Thanks to NATO’s aerial bombardment, Muammar Qaddafi has few tanks left to seize up but his regime is running on empty. His military forces, now deploying civilian vehicles on the front line in the hope of confusing NATO’s pilots, have priority in using the gasoline and diesel still available to the colonel. But it may soon run out.
A litre of fuel in the capital now sells for more than $8, about 50 times the price in Benghazi, the rebel stronghold in the east. Some lines of cars at Tripoli’s petrol stations now stretch for more than a mile, with drivers taking turns to keep watch over cars left in queues overnight. Thieves scour the capital for vehicles that still have fuel in their tanks.
Limited supplies exist. A trickle of oil from fields in the regime-held south-west feeds the refinery at Zawiya, on the coast near Tripoli. Aerial surveillance shows heat coming from the plant but it is probably operating at no more than 30% of its capacity of 120,000 barrels a day (b/d). On June 12th rebels tried to capture the town but were repulsed by artillery. If Colonel Qaddafi were to lose Zawiya and its refinery, the game would probably be up.
Meanwhile, AFP reports:
Libya said 15 people including three children were killed in a NATO air strike Monday, although the Western alliance denied responsibility a day after it admitted causing civilian deaths in Tripoli.
The government spokesman accused NATO of a “cowardly terrorist act which cannot be justified” as journalists were shown damaged buildings on the sprawling estate of a veteran comrade of Moamer Kadhafi west of the capital and nine corpses, as well as body parts including one of a child.
But the alliance insisted no aircraft under its command had been operating in the Sorman area, 70 kilometres (45 miles) from Tripoli.
“We strongly deny that this thing in Sorman is us,” a NATO official in Brussels said on condition of anonymity. “We have not been operating there.”