Libyan rebels corner Gaddafi troops at airport

2011-05-11 11:04

Misrata – Libyan rebels cornered Muammar Gaddafi’s troops at the airport in the western city of Misrata today amid fierce fighting witnessed by an AFP correspondent.

Battles yesterday night and this morning left rebels in control of the northern, eastern and western perimeters of the airport compound, leaving only the south where Gaddafi’s troops would face fierce resistance if they wanted to fight their way out.

Insurgent forces captured 40 Grad rockets from the regime troops, whose mortar fire injured 13 rebels, the AFP correspondent said.

It was unclear if any regime fighters were killed or wounded, but rebels said they had captured one Mauritanian mercenary in Gaddafi’s employ, although AFP could not confirm this.

Rebels had been firing on Gaddafi’s forces from a prison in the airport compound, having already gained control of the African market also in the enclosure.

They were reinforced by fighters returning from the front further west, which rebels told AFP was quiet after they had pushed government forces about 15km from Misrata.

The insurgents were advancing to Dafnia, and were readying to move on Zliten, the next major town on the road to Tripoli.

Misrata has been besieged by Gaddafi forces for close to two months, during which time the only route in or out of the city, Libya’s third largest, was by sea via the port.

Should the rebels capture the airport, the humanitarian situation could be eased for the city’s 500 000 population, who have been running out of supplies.

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