The rebels battling to force out of power Libyan leader Muammar Al Qathafi, Tuesday received the first shipment of nonlethal aid from the United States. The consignment that was delivered to the Transitional National Council, TNC, in Benghazi included more than 10,000 MREs - meals ready to eat - that are halal, permissible under Islamic law.
While saying that US officials are coordinating with the TNC, "to determine what additional assistance requirements we might be able to support in the coming weeks," U.S. State Department spokesman Mark Toner said that other items en route from the U.S. Defence Department include medical supplies, tents, uniforms, boots and personal protective gear.
The arrival of this aid, will do much to boost the rebel forces defending the Libyan city of Misurata from government troops. They are currently making "metre-by-metre" gains, as CNN described it, despite heavy shelling and rocket attacks by pro-government forces.
Reports indicate that the Al-Qathafi forces have kept up the barrage and been firing rockets and artillery shells into residential neighbourhoods, leaving a nearby emergency room full of women, children and old men, Marie Colvin, the Middle East correspondent for Britain's Sunday Times, reported.
He said that the rebels were very much trying at a minimum to push back Al Qathafi’s. At the same time, the rebels keep asking why NATO forces aren't targeting the pro-Al Qathafi gunners.
NATO warplanes and missiles have been pounding Al Qathafi's forces since March as they try to quash a nearly three-month-old revolt against the leader’s regime.
In Misurata, two months of fighting and the ongoing shelling of the city's port have prevented most aid ships from docking there, leaving the city "at the forefront" of U.N. humanitarian concerns, a top U.N. official told the Security Council on Monday.
A ship carrying aid from the International Committee of the Red Cross docked in Misurata on Tuesday, but the ongoing fighting has deterred many captains from trying to enter the port. The ICRC said the vessel carried medical supplies, spare parts to repair water and electrical supply systems and 8,000 jars of baby food.
Valerie Amos, the U.N. undersecretary-general for humanitarian affairs, told the Security Council on Monday, that almost 750,000 people have fled Libya amid the fighting, and another 58,000 are displaced within the country. Another 5,000 are stranded at border crossings between Libya, Tunisia and Niger. Others have tried to flee by sea.
On another front, fighting between government and rebel troops rages on in pro-Al Qathafi forces-held al-Brega, a key oil town in eastern Libya. According to reports, the rebels have made multiple unsuccessful attempts to enter the town.