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Rebel Killed in Tuarga Clashes, But Rebels Say Close to Taking Brega
11/08/2011 18:06:00
Medics in the besieged port city of Misurata said Thursday, that a Libyan rebel fighter was killed and to others wounded in clashes with forces loyal to the Libyan leader, Muammar Al Qathafi as they moved towards the town of Tuarga in order to snuff out rocket fire aimed at Misurata. But they say they are close to taking Brega.

Many streets in the western port city, were deserted as residents sought respite indoors from the summer heat and during the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan, but AFP reported that along the city's ain thoroughfare, Tripoli street, some people could be seen sorting through the debris of months of shelling and fighting, looking for belongings or just tidying up the mess.

But attacks are a nearly a daily occurrence in this city, with rockets ploughing into homes and office buildings, Streets have been destryed by tank fire, Grad rockets and thousands upon thousands of Kalashnikov rounds. Every building there bears the scars of the fighting, and life has been slow to get back to normal since rebels took the city more than three months ago.

Meanwhile, rebels have taken up defensive positions in the Souk Talat area of the city, which the regime forces claimed in recent days was entirely under its control.

Fresh fighting erupted on Wednesday at the strategic oil town of Brega, in eastern Libya. Mortar rounds and rockets struck intermittently on both sides of the front at Brega, home mainly to oil facilities, refineries, ports and a residential area.

The rebels appear to be confident and have no doubt about eventual victory. They say that, “In just a "a few days" they plan to retake the strategic oil hub of Brega, nestled on the Gulf of Sirte.

Backed by NATO helicopters the rebels have tried for the past three weeks to seize this vital port 240 kilometres southwest of their eastern stronghold Benghazi, and on Wednesday were poised on the outskirts of its residential area. Some are reported to have even got inside the residential area.

They say they could be inside the city efore the dat, Thursday is out, but also envisage heavy casualties. They feel it would be wiser to go slowly, and “to secure methodically” their advance.

There's a feeling that who holds Brega, which stretches several dozens of kilometres from east to west along the coastal road linking the rebel-held eastern city of Ajdabiyah and the key oil hub of Ras Lanuf controls the centre part of the country and its oil fields. It is currently controlled by Al Qathafi forces.

Rebels determined to take it have embarked on a three-pronged attack straddling the coast, the road from Ajdabiyah and the south. They are surrounding the city and have been using theirartillery to empty the city.

In turn, the regime troops have formed solid defence lines. The rebels say that the Al Qathafi forces have planted hundreds of mines in a bid to block the rebel advance, hidden their arms depots in warehouses and maximised an ingenious network of underground tunnels to move their tanks and vehicles undetected by NATO.

Fawzi Bukatif, a civil engineer who became a top commander of the insurrection told AFP:
"It's a question of days. As soon as we take the factory, it will be over. Brega is a symbol. Psychologically, we need this victory."

He added that rebels have no intention to "walk on Tripoli" as that path remains blocked by Sirte, another Al Qathafi stronghold and his birth place.

"By capturing Brega, we fix and weaken the Al Qathafi forces, and we release the pressure on the other fronts of Misurata and Jebel," he said in reference to Libya's third city and the battle fronts of the western Nafusa mountains.

Rebels, he added, hope to get the oil town pumping again after victory.

"The exportation of oil will restart from here, as soon as possible."
Comment:
Government forces shouldn't be shy about using scorched earth tactics. If they recover Libya from the 'rebels', the Libyan government can rebuild facilities they destroyed in order to keep them from falling to NATO; if they don't recover Brega, the fuel port will be useless to the 'rebels' for months, or years, to come. Either way, the government forces come out ahead.
 

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