See also:
» 29.01.2013 - Libya peace very fragile, warns UN
» 31.03.2011 - Libya's Foreign Minister defects
» 24.03.2011 - How cyber-activism lent savvy to North African protests
» 18.03.2011 - Ten nations ready to attack Ghaddafi regime
» 18.03.2011 - Africa defies AU chief's support for Ghaddafi
» 18.03.2011 - France: We can start bombing Libya tonight
» 17.03.2011 - Libya rebels shoot down fighter jets
» 15.03.2011 - Ghaddafi thanks Germany, Russia and China

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Politics | Human rights

Libya rebels hold key city Ajdabiya

Anti-Ghaddafi protests in Ajdabiya today, despite the bombing

© Anonymous/afrol News
afrol News, 15 March
- Despite a further advance eastward by Ghaddafi troops, the Libyan rebels claim to be able to hold the city of Ajdabiya, which is key to stop an advance to Benghazi and Tobruk.

Foreign journalists now mostly have left Ajdabiya, and to some degree also other eastern Libyan cities, as the approaching frontline is making the "liberated" zone less secure. Also, Libyan has unfortunately slipped downwards on the news agenda.

International media, mostly based on sources from the Ghaddafi regime, today have reported that Ajdabiya has fallen to troops loyal to the regime, with rebels evacuating the strategic city and pro-Ghaddafi troops advancing towards Benghazi. Libyan state TV today said pro-Ghaddafi troops were "in total control" of the city.

But Libyan rebels, who by now are better organised and able to report directly about the frontline, claim the opposite. Several sources in Ajdabiya agree that pro-Ghaddafi troops today launched massive attacks on the strategic city, including air raids and bombing.

Despite reports from Tripoli that Ajdabiya had fallen, sources in the city vehemently deny this. Civilians calling from Ajdabiya say the rebel forces managed to repeal the attack by pro-Ghaddafi forces and that the city never was in the hands of the old regime.

Sources in Brega, further west, maintain that this oil terminal and port town still is not in the hands of pro-Ghaddafi forces and that this remains the real current frontline. Brega has changed hands several times during the last days, with rebel forces in the town however claiming pro-Ghaddafi troops were never in full control.

The Benghazi-based rebel government today even sent out older military planes to assist the population in Ajdabiya. According to rebel reports, two warships bombarding the city were sunk by the airplanes.

Today's bombing of Ajdabiya; from an amateur video

© Anonymous/afrol News
The "Free Libyan Airforce" reportedly also had bombed the key airbase in Sirte, in the hands of pro-Ghaddafi troops.

Further sources in Ajdabiya say that the rebels were able to "destroy four tanks and seize seven tanks" from the pro-Ghaddafi troops during today's attack. The captured tanks reportedly were "in good condition."

While there are contradicting reports about the situation in Ajdabiya, all sources agree the city is of great strategic value. From here, the road north-eastwards towards Benghazi would be a step stone for pro-Ghaddafi troops.

But, there is also a road going directly eastwards from Ajdabiya, crossing mostly uninhabited areas and leading to Tobruk close to the Egyptian border. A Ghaddafi advance towards Tobruk would shut off rebel supplies and escape routes to Egypt. Ajdabiya holds the key to such a possible advance.

While the revolutionary government in Benghazi strongly denies the Ghaddafi reports about a quick advance eastwards, it is still seeking better international support fearing that the front could collapse and the entire east become a war zone.

But rebel calls for a no-fly zone have so far had no result. According to French sources, the Chinese government is opposing the no-fly zone that the Arab League, France and Britain have called for.

There are however some unconfirmed reports about Arab and French diplomatic contacts discussing military assistance to the Benghazi rebel government. Both France and the Arab League have recognised the "Free Libyan" government in Benghazi as the true representation of the Libyan people, and this government has appealed for military aid.

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