Battle As Libya Rebels Try To Retake Key Town

Libyan rebels have been involved in a gun battle in the key town of Al Zawiyah.

The rebels claim they have reached the centre of the town, but the Gaddafi regime says it remains in control.

A plume of smoke could be seen rising to the north of the town, close to the Mediterranean coastline, and there was sporadic gunfire to the south.

I was with two colleagues from other media organisations, travelling along the main coast road towards Tripoli along with two Libyan government minders, when our minibus became caught up in the firefight.

We were making the regular journey from the Tunisian border to Tripoli to be based at the government supervised Rixos Hotel in the city. Earlier in the day several members of the media travelled in the opposite direction without incident.

But at around 5pm, the minibus was waved to a halt by soldiers on the outskirts of Al Zawiyah and was forced to take a detour through the northern suburbs.

However, as it did so, gunfire could be heard and government soldiers were seen retreating down side streets, waving the minibus away.

The driver tried to negotiate a route through, but each time was forced to turn around.

Al Zawiyah was the scene of fierce fighting five months ago, witnessed by Sky’s Alex Crawford.

She and her colleagues filmed 2 days of artillery assault by government tanks, attacking rebels who were trying to defend the town.

It was eventually recaptured, but many civilians were killed. It has been held by the regime ever since, but it’s strategic location on the coast makes it a prized target for the National Transitional Council because it would cut the regime’s supply lines to the west of Tripoli.

During the gun battle we spent 20 minutes driving around in circles looking for a way through to Tripoli, but it was obvious it was too dangerous to continue. The minibus headed back towards the Tunisian border.

All along the road there was evidence of the fuel shortages which are affecting ordinary Libyans, even in areas controlled by those loyal to Colonel Gaddafi.

Many petrol stations were closed and their entrances blocked, while those that were open had long queues as dozens of motorists tried to fill their cars.

Rebel advances, together with NATO airstrikes are continuing to threaten the Libyan leaders 41 year rule.

Source: Sky News

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3 Responses to Battle As Libya Rebels Try To Retake Key Town

  1. Secure Zawiyah, and move west..not East………….Let Tripoli Implode…The Onus will be on Gaddaffi to retake his country, and when his soldiers see the futility, they will leave him…………..

  2. Free Zuwarah, so that the whole area can be openly supplied…… not create a bloodbath to build the coutry on………If Gharyan citizenry supports Gaddaffi, then retire to the high ground and secure the roads from the south…….Also the water sources and utilities thatt support Gharyan…….Make Gaddaffi come to you……….

    Seperate Tripoli from Sirte, and you must move to Ras Lanouf……………….

  3. Free Azzawia says:

    @ ankhzoroaster: I totally agre with you. there’s no point in moving East from Azzawia as it would be met with desperate fierce defence leading to a needless bloodbath. The best strategic move would be to concentrate on consolidating a defensive line at Azzawia and atempt to take everything West of it all the way to the Tunisian border at Ras Jdir.

    control of the Tiji – Al Watiyah – Zwara road, combined with the Ras Jdir crossing would be 20 times more effective than moving East from Azzawia in the short to medium term.

    Once the Tunisian border is completely under control, expect the internal situation in Tripoli to become unbearable. This should effectively soften/weaken Kadaf’s loyalists and trigger a loss of confidence among his supporters who should begin to unwash their brains once they realize the state tv propaganda diatrades don’t add up…

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