- Title: LIBYA: Government toops push back rebels from oil town
- Date: 13th March 2011
- Summary: NEAR UQAYLAH, LIBYA (MARCH 12, 2011) (REUTERS) REBEL CARS ON ROAD, TRUCK WITH ANTI-AIRCRAFT ARTILLERY REBEL TRUCKS REBELS SITTING ON ROAD, GETTING UP AS AIRPLANE APPROACHES SMOKE RISING AFTER EXPLOSION REBELS FIRING ANTI-AIRCRAFT WEAPON MORE SMOKE VARIOUS REBEL FIGHTER BREAKING AWAY FRAGMENTS OF WINDSHIELD HIT BY SHRAPNEL BREGA, LIBYA (MARCH 12, 2011) (REUTERS) REBEL CHECKPOINT PEOPLE AT CHECKPOINT (SOUNDBITE) (English) MOHAMMED, REBEL FIGHTER, SAYING: "Yesterday it's a shooting - some bomb from the sea to us and from any side. From this side, it's coming from the aircrafts coming bomb. And, from the sea, bomb coming. So much bomb. You know we come back to this area to make our situation." CARS, ROAD LEADING TO RAS LANUF (SOUNDBITE) (English) MOHANED, REBEL FIGHTER, SAYING: "The situation were that there are lots of fights there in Ras Lanuf. You know they're hitting from the beach with warships and from the mountains with the tanks and with the rockets and from the back areas, you know. We don't know if the army is still there or not but we heard that army is backing up. Yesterday all Brega was empty, you know. Today, more people came to put more defensive positions here in Brega, you know. We still don't know if we're going to go forward or just stay here to hold Brega, you know, because we don't know the amount of forces that coming from there." TRUCK WITH ANTI-AIRCRAFT WEAPON REBEL FIGHTER OPERATING WEAPON
- Embargoed: 28th March 2011 13:00
- Location: Libya
- Country: Libya
- Topics: Domestic Politics
- Reuters ID: LVA3YH7STVXDOIYTTINDW081FMC3
- Story Text: Libyan troops forced rebels to retreat overnight (March 11-12) from the outskirts of the oil town of Ras Lanuf, pushing the front line eastwards, and the rebel council's chief said more volunteers were ready to fight.
There were three air strikes close to a checkpoint near the town of Uqaylah, 40 km (25 miles) from Ras Lanuf unsettling the rebels who moved off the road and into the desert.
"Yesterday it's a shooting - some bomb from the sea to us and from any side. From this side, it's coming from the aircrafts coming bomb. And, from the sea, bomb coming. So much bomb. You know we come back to this area to make our situation," said rebel fighter Mohammed.
The front line now stands between the rebel-held town of Uqaylah and Ras Lanuf, where oil storage tanks were hit during Friday's fighting. Rebels blamed an air strike but the government denied hitting the oil plant. Rebels said there were more fighters standing by.
It was clear the rebels had retreated from Ras Lanuf, but with a rapidly-moving battlefield, just how far was uncertain.
Rebels, armed mainly with anti-aircraft and anti-tank guns, rocket propelled grenade launchers and light weapons, fought back to hold Ras Lanuf, about 590 km (370 miles) east of Tripoli, but were overwhelmed by the firepower of soldiers loyal to leader Muammar Gaddafi.
The next big oil town of Brega was alive with rumour that Gaddafi forces would be advancing shortly, mounting another overwhelming show of military force. On the outskirts, rebels made preparations in armed vehicles to defend the town.
"We still don't know if we're going to go forward or just stay here to hold Brega, you know, because we don't know the amount of forces that coming from there," said rebel fighter Mohaned.
Some 4x4 vehicles with heavy weapons moved back towards Ras Lanuf from the front line in this barren landscape dotted with oil terminals that divides the west with Tripoli as its capital from the rebel-held east and Libya's second city of Benghazi.
The only town holding out in western Libya was Misrata, about 200 km (125 miles) east of Tripoli and with a population of about 300,000. It was calm Friday, but rebels said they were expecting an attack shortly.
Libya's insurgent leader said any delay in imposing a no-fly zone could let Gaddafi regain control.
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