Libyan rebels gain inches toward link to Tripoli

The New York Times reports:

Rebels opposed to Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi seized control of this village in the mountains on Wednesday, extending their hold in western Libya and inching toward a supply route to the capital that they hope to sever.

After a half-day gun battle, Colonel Qaddafi’s soldiers yielded the town in the early afternoon, firing rockets and mortars to cover their withdrawal. The ordnance exploded on the hillsides around the town with reverberating booms and plumes of dust and smoke that briefly kept the rebels away.

But the rebels flowed in behind the fleeing troops, capturing more than a dozen of them and collecting the departed soldiers’ abandoned ammunition and equipment. Soon they were refueling their cars and pickup trucks at the gas station they now held.

Qawalish changed hands while rebels elsewhere reported making progress outside of Misurata, east of the capital, Tripoli. They said they were advancing toward the city of Zlitan. Those reports could not be independently confirmed.

In the mountains, the rebels said they hoped their day signaled new momentum for a fight in western Libya that had been deadlocked for more than a week. “We are doing well,” said Sofian Alhaj, a fighter who said he was a former employee of an investment company run by Seif al-Islam el-Qaddafi, one of the Libyan leader’s sons. “Now we will keep going, until we are in Tripoli.”

That ambition, if realized, would most likely occur in increments. Geographically, the seizure of Qawalish marked a minor shift in the front lines. But it moved the rebels within about 35 miles of Gharyan, a small city astride a strategic highway running south from Tripoli.

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One thought on “Libyan rebels gain inches toward link to Tripoli

  1. Christopher Hoare

    Despite all the unctious preaching from self-appointed ajudicators, their hero, Qadhafi, will be removed from power this year. I suppose they realise they have disqualified themselves from a voice in the important part—creating the new Libya that will grow from these forty years of dictatorship.

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