Fighting flares as rebels seize towns near Tripoli
Updated: 2011-02-25 07:56
An anti-government demonstrator dressed in an army uniform walks in front of a gutted military compound in Benghazi city on Thursday. [Photo/Agencies]
Rebellion gains ground in west, nears Gadhafi's power base
BENGHAZI, Libya - Forces loyal to Muammar Gadhafi launched a counter-attack on Thursday as rebels threatened the Libyan leader's grip on power by seizing important towns close to the capital Tripoli.
The opposition already controls major centers in the east, including the regional capital Benghazi, and reports that the towns of Misrata and Zuara in the west had also fallen brought the rebellion closer to Gadhafi's power base.
Forces loyal to the Libyan leader on Thursday attacked anti-government militias controlling Misrata and killed several people in fighting near the city's airport.
"The (pro-Gadhafi) brigade has managed to control the site, but we are still trying to push it back. The clashes are still taking place at the moment," a witness said.
Violence also reached the town of Az-Zawiyah, just 50 km west of Tripoli. Al Jazeera television broadcast pictures on Thursday of what it said was a burning police station there. But a witness said the Libyan army was maintaining a heavy presence there.
Many world leaders condemned Gadhafi's crackdown on a revolt that has split Libya.
Washington and Brussels spoke of possible sanctions, yet there seemed to be little cohesion and urgency in the global response to the crisis.
US President Barack Obama made his first public comments, condemning as "outrageous" and "unacceptable" attacks on protesters that have helped drive oil prices to levels that threaten global economic recovery.
But US options to influence events in Libya are limited, unlike in Egypt and Bahrain where Washington was able to bring pressure to bear as a long-time ally and benefactor, Al Jazeera said on Wednesday.
In the case of sanctions, the US cannot do much by itself against Libya because the two countries only recently re-established diplomatic relations, and the US has little economic influence there, The New York Times said in a report on Wednesday.
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