An armoured vehicle belonging to the pro-government forces burns after a direct hit by a coalition airstrike
Rebel forces were forced to retreat from the eastern oil town of Brega after having made some gains. They were forced to abandon the town and head back east toward Ajdabiyah in the face of a renewed offensive by troops loyal to Libyan leader Muammar Al Qathafi, Reuters news agency reports.
Both sides exchanged heavy fire on Tuesday, but just a day after rebels had taken over a residential part of the city, they were forced to retreat. They failed to hold their ground and once again lost the town they had gained and lost on three other occasions to the pro-government troops.
Opposition forces said they came under rocket and artillery fire while they attempted to fight back with mortars and rockets of their own. Therefore, after a series of rapid advances followed by headlong retreats, the insurgents could only hold their ground for six days in Bread before losing it again.
Early in the day, a coalition airstrike targeted eight government vehicles that were advancing on opposition positions, witnesses said, and Al Jazeera's Honda Abdel-Hamid, in Readability, reported that opposition forces had been pushed back 20-30km east of Bread towards Readability by the Al Nathalie forces' mid-morning offensive.
Meanwhile, Brigadier General Mark van Uhm, NATO's chief of allied operations, said that NATO's new "number one priority" was the western town of Misurata, where residents say they have been besieged for weeks by pro-Al Qathafi forces.
Van Uhm said that the Al Qathafi troops have been adjusting their tactics to deal with the threat from coalition airstrikes, travelling in trucks and light vehicles to the front line and hiding their tanks and armoured vehicles from sight.
He said NATO had so far taken out 30 per cent of the regime's military power, and had struck targets near Misurata on Monday.
After a series of rapid rebel advances followed by headlong retreats, the pro-democracy fighters had at least held their ground in this oil town for several days, putting their best trained forces into battle for the town and keeping disorganised volunteers away.
Abibi, the rebel officer, Told Al Jazeera that the two sides battled inside the city until nightfall on Monday and then the rebels moved back to the outskirts. The night passed without much incident, until the coalition airstrike on Tuesday morning.
On Monday, columns of opposition fighters had driven up the main coastal highway, regaining ground they had given up the day before, but the effective use of artillery and landmines by AL Qathafi's troops kept them at bay.
Tuesday's offensive by the pro-government forces, however, broke the pattern.
"We haven't seen such a push (by Al Qathafi forces) for a few days, over the past few days it actually seemed as if the opposition forces were able to hold some sort of position around the town of Brega.
“Well, today the situation was completely different. The Al Qathafi forces were much more aggressive than they had been in the past days, it seem that maybe they had received new supplies, but certainly they have been pounding much more intensely than over the past few days," Al Jazeera's correspondent said.
Mustafa Gheirani, a spokesman for the opposition's National Council in Benghazi, said that while "setbacks" had been suffered, the opposition would fight on. “There is no revolution without setbacks. But the people will win. Al Qathafi cannot rule Libya with his machine - his militias and his mercenaries ... We are committed to fighting this tyrant, and either we will drive him out or he will rule a country with no people in it," he said.
Diplomatic efforts to end the conflict have once again failed to make any progress with the government side offering concessions, but insisting Al Qathafi stay in power and the rebels adamant that Libya's leader for the past 41 years leave.
|A R Thompson
||Date: 04/06/2011 10:17:09
In all Wars and Conflicts it is always the Opposing side that is the Dictator & Tyrant,but let us reflect Mr Mustafa Gheriani. Who started this Rebbelion in the first place? Were you tarving or going Hungry?I who comes to Libya to Work! At the time of you prearranged rising, Al Qathafi was your Friend,that is, until a plot was hatched by the Western Nations & the USA, by covert operations,to install you as a Puppet Government,and to protect their investments and OIL!. So the Trap was Set! and Gaddafi,had to do something about it. Its the NEW WORLD ORDER or have you forgotten that you to our being Manipulated!
Wake up Mr Gheriani, there is more to life than Gold,Oil.It is the Nation that is at stake. Don't lose it with infighting