Libyan rebels make headway

2011-06-12 13:45
Zawiya - Libyan rebels battled their way back into a major oil port just 50km west of Tripoli on Saturday, forcing Muammar Gaddafi's troops to close the vital coast highway and key supply route from Tunisia. The renewed rebel offensive marked a significant rebound for opposition forces who were crushed and driven out of the city nearly three months ago.

Rebels first took Zawiya in early March, but were brutally expelled less than two weeks later in an assault by members of an elite brigade commanded by Gaddafi's son Khamis. That had left rebels with only tenuous footholds in Libya's far west.

On Saturday, Guma el-Gamaty, a London-based spokesperson for the rebels' political leadership council, said opposition fighters had taken control of a large area on the western side of the city. A rebel fighter who fled Zawiya at the end of March said "there are clashes inside Zawiya itself." The rebel, who identified himself only as Kamal, said "the fighters are back in the city" and that he had spoken with them.

While too early to mark a breakthrough in the stalemated civil war between Gaddafi forces and the rebels, who control roughly the eastern third of the country, an opposition offensive so near the capital was bound to put a nearly intolerable burden on Gaddafi forces.

They have been riddled by defections, badly hurt by ongoing UN-sanctioned NATO airstrikes and facing huge resupply problems as a result of the naval blockade that has clamped off ports. The international actions are designed to help the four-month-old rebel uprising to drive Gaddafi from nearly 40 years in power in the oil-rich North African country.


Apparently prompted by the Zawiya clashes on Saturday, Libyan soldiers sealed off parts of a crucial coastal road leading from Tripoli west to the Tunisian border.

An AP reporter travelling the coastal highway approaching Zawiya from the capital reported it was clogged with soldiers and loyalist gunmen with assault rifles, some patrolling the road, others manning checkpoints. Roadside shops were shuttered. The only vehicles on the road were white jeep-style vehicles use by Gaddafi soldiers.

Civilian vehicles were directed onto a narrow agricultural road through olive groves and past grazing cattle and sprawling homes. Traffic on the agricultural rode crawled past Zawiya and was only allowed back on the coastal highway at historic Roman-era town of Sabrata.

The coastal road is a key artery from neighbouring Tunisia for delivery for food, fuel and medicine for the Gaddafi regime.

Read more on:    muammar gaddafi  |  libya  |  north africa  |  libya protests

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
NEXT ON NEWS24X publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
1 comment
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24


Meet instagram star, Pumpkin the racoon

With 300 000 followers and growing Pumpkin is winning over the internet!



The cats that cost R35 000
Miley Cyrus can’t get enough of her new puppy
13 guilty pets
Meet SA's top poacher-catcher

Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts

Plant some seeds. Your innovative mind is on fire and your ingenious ideas may just be the seeds for future projects. You may more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.