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Thread: Rebels lose town as fighting rages

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    Default Rebels lose town as fighting rages

    Rebels lose town as fighting rages




    RAS LANUF, Libya: Air strikes targeted rebel positions yesterday and outgunned insurgents were forced to retreat but Libyan TV reports that Muammar Gadaffi's forces had retaken a swathe of key towns were swiftly denied.
    The rebels said they had withdrawn from the coastal hamlet of Bin Jawad, occupied on Saturday in an advance westward on Gadaffi's home town Sirte, after clashes which doctors said left two dead and around 50 wounded.
    It was the first time since the uprising against the Libyan leader began on February 15 that the rebels have admitted conceding ground to his forces.
    Ali Errishi, Gadaffi's former immigration minister, who joined the rebellion, voiced growing rebel frustration at a lack of international assistance for the ragtag and ill-equipped force.
    He told CNN that the US had missed an opportunity to oust the Libyan strongman by "dragging its feet" over aiding the rebels in the early days of the uprising, now approaching its fourth week.
    "They were dragging their feet, I don't know why. We asked, we don't want a no-fly zone actually, we just want air cover." French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe, one of those pressing for a "no-fly" zone, said any international military intervention in Libya would have "absolutely negative" effects, during a visit to neighbour Egypt.
    "Given the possibility that the fighting could become bloodier, we must prepare ourselves to react, and that's the reason why we have to plan for a flight interdiction zone over Libya," Juppe said.
    His comments were aired as Britain was forced to admit a secret weekend attempt to begin negotiations with the rebels had ended ignominiously after the opposition forces arrested a group of soldiers and at least one diplomat helicoptered into Libya.
    "I can confirm that a small British diplomatic team has been in Benghazi," Foreign Secretary William Hague said.
    "The team went to Libya to initiate contacts with the opposition. They experienced difficulties, which have now been satisfactorily resolved. They have now left Libya."
    "We refused to discuss anything with them due to the way they entered the country," national council spokesman Abdul Hafiz Ghoqa said.
    He said the men came into Libya by helicopter, landing in Suluk, a small town southwest of Benghazi where they were detained.
    They were reportedly on their way home late yesterday aboard a British ship sent to Benghazi to evacuate refugees.
    Earlier, thousands celebrated in Tripoli as state television channel Allibiya reported that government forces had taken control of Misrata, the key oil centre of Ras Lanuf and even Tobruk near the Egyptian border.
    AFP reporters in Ras Lanuf, taken by rebels early on Saturday, confirmed it was still in opposition hands despite being hit by air strikes.
    But Misrata residents said government tanks had begun shelling the town and warned of "carnage" if the international community did not intervene.
    A rebel officer, Colonel Bashir Al Moghrabi, said in Ras Lanuf rebels were also still in control in Zawiyah, west of Tripoli.
    A local doctor said Saturday there had been a "massacre" in Zawiyah and a Sky News journalist said Gadaffi's forces had fired on civilians.
    Meanwhile, Gadaffi's government asked the Arab League to reverse a February 22 decision suspending it from the organisation's meetings, Deputy Foreign Minister Khaled Kaaim said.
    Gadaffi told the French weekly Le Journal du Dimanche he wanted the UN or African Union to probe the unrest and promised: "We will let this panel work unhampered."
    An estimated 100,000 mainly foreign migrants have entered Tunisia from Libya since February 20, Tunisian officials said. Many have been repatriated in an international effort, but thousands remain in temporary camps facing growing problems of hygiene.

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    jazakallah sis

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    barakAllah sis
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