Mon, Mar 14, 2011 - Page 1 News List

Forces bombard oil town, Libya rebels forced to retreat

ARMS COUNT:One rebel appealed for assistance, saying people didn’t have the means to cope with the weaponry deployed by government troops

Reuters, AJDABIYAH, LIBYA

Rebels fighting the forces of Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi in the east of Libya retreated from the oil town of Brega yesterday after heavy bombardment delivered government forces another battlefield success.

“The rebels have left Brega. It is evacuated,” 33-year-old anesthesiologist Osama Jazwi said.

Abdul Hakim, also a resident of the town, said that the rebels had left. There were no details of the attack by Qaddafi’s forces immediately available.

Earlier, Libyan television had said that the rebels had retreated.

“Brega has been cleansed of armed gangs,” a military source was quoted on Libyan state TV as saying.

Retreating rebel soldiers in the nearby town of Ajdabiyah were demoralized.

“He’s out of Brega. He’s on the way, maybe in half an hour his rockets will reach us here,” said rebel fighter, Masoud Bwisir, at the western gate of the town.

“There’s no uprising any more,” said rebel Nabeel Tijouri, whose heavy machine gun had been destroyed in the fighting. “The other day we were in Ras Lanuf, then Brega, the day after tomorrow they will be in Benghazi.”

Further east down the coastal road, government troops had already pushed rebels from Ras Lanuf after attacking the oil port in an assault pitting tanks and planes against rebels armed with light weapons and machine guns mounted on pick-up trucks.

“Obama, you can have as much oil as you like just send in the marines to get rid of Qaddafi,” said one fighter, who only gave his name as Younis, asking US President Barack Obama for military assistance.

One senior rebel officer, who declined to be identified, was angry.

“These guys won’t listen. They are driving me crazy. There’s no one in command. We had [the town of] Bin Jawad, but they just wouldn’t listen, I’m being driven crazy,” he said.

“The Libyan people need help. We’re in danger. The east is in danger,” said Abdel Hadi Omar, a civilian rebel volunteer, speaking in Ajdabiyah. “The Libyan people can’t cope with Qaddafi’s weapons. We have people, but we don’t have means.”

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