Battles rage in western Libya flashpoints: rebels



TRIPOLI, Imed Lamloum- Fighting between Moamer Kadhafi's forces and rebels raged on Sunday across Libya, with casualties reported in Zintan and the regime saying it had eliminated resistance in Zawiyah west of the capital.
Battles were also being fought in the Berber mountains southwest of Tripoli, in nearby Yafran, and at Dafnia near Misrata, Libya's third city, rebel sources told AFP.



Battles rage in western Libya flashpoints: rebels
Tribal fighters opposed to Kadhafi have also clashed with his forces in the oasis city of Sabha -- a first since the outbreak of the uprising against him in mid-February.
An AFP correspondent said Kadhafi's forces pounded the outskirts of Zintan on Sunday, killing at least seven rebels.
Government forces posted a few kilometres (miles) east of Zintan, which remains under rebel control, fired Grad and Katyusha rockets at the town.
The AFP reporter said after visiting the local hospital that at least seven Libyan rebels were killed and 49 wounded in the bombardment.
NATO said it was taking "necessary action" to protect civilians.
"NATO is monitoring the situation closely and is taking necessary action to protect civilians," a statement said.
"Along the north-west coast of Libya between Tripoli and the Tunisian border Libyans long tired of Kadhafi rule are challenging his legitimacy openly, and in doing so, are under threat of attack," it said.
In Tripoli, the regime spokesman said its forces had eliminated rebel "pockets of resistance" at Zawiyah west of the capital.
Mussa Ibrahim told reporters that Kadhafi's forces had "total control" of the area from Ajdabiya in the east to the Tunisian border in the west.
He denied reports that the rebels were gaining ground, while at the same time acknowledging clashes at Zawiyah but playing down their intensity.
"It is pockets of resistance. The rebels there are no more than a hundred. The army has killed some of them, captured others and is negotiating the surrender of others," Ibrahim said.
He also reiterated that the regime rejected any talks about Kadhafi leaving the country.
"No one has the right to demand that the leader stand down. No one can come here with a plan that includes his departure," he said, adding such an idea is "immoral, illegal and has no sense."
Tension were also high in the area between Zintan and Yafran, a region bitterly contested by rebels and loyalist troops, the AFP correspondent said.
Hospital staff in Yafran, on condition of anonymity, said foreign doctors were prevented from leaving by pro-Kadhafi forces, who allegedly detained and beat up some employees.
The fighting in Zawiyah just 40 kilometres (25 miles) west of Tripoli, which follows more than two months of relative calm in the city of 250,000 people, erupted on Saturday, a rebel source told AFP in Benghazi.
Kadhafi's forces wrested control of Zawiyah from the rebels after fierce fighting there in February and March.
An influx of refugees into neighbouring Tunisia at a key border crossing has dropped off after the route from Tripoli was cut off by the fighting in Zawiyah, one traveller said.
Fighting also broke out in Sabha, 800 kilometres (500 miles) by road south of Tripoli and a bastion of support for Kadhafi, the rebel National Transitional Council said.
Fighters of the Awlad Suleiman tribe, a rival to the Kadhafis, "liberated several streets" on Saturday, the NTC said in a statement. Kadhafi's forces had opened fire, killing one man.
The fighting in Sabha, with a population of some 100,000 people and home to an important military base, followed two days of anti-Kadhafi protests there, the statement said.
The rebels, who control most of eastern Libya as well as the port city of Misrata and a sprinkling of towns in the west, also reported fighting at Dafnia near Misrata on Saturday.
A rebel source said that on Friday, 20 people were killed when Kadhafi's forces bombarded the Dafnia area with Grad rockets, heavy artillery and tank shells.
A rebel source in Benghazi said Kadhafi forces had surrounded the Azdu quarter of Zliten west of Misrata, and used loudhailers to shout threats that they would rape the women and kill the men if rebels there did not surrender.
The fresh wave of fighting comes as Turkey said it has offered Kadhafi guarantees to leave Libya and Russian envoy Mikhail Margelov said he would soon visit Tripoli to try to find a solution to the conflict.
The United Arab Emirates on Sunday became the 12th nation to recognise the rebel National Transitional Council in Benghazi as the "sole legitimate representative of the Libyan people," the official WAM news agency reported.
Meanwhile, International Criminal Court (ICC) prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo, in an interview published on Sunday, said he hoped Kadhafi "will be arrested" by his people in the weeks ahead to face crimes against humanity charges.
"We hope that the arrest warrant (to face charges of crimes against humanity) will be delivered soon and that Kadhafi will be detained by the Libyan people. That's what we are expecting," he told Spanish daily El Mundo.
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Monday, June 13th 2011
Imed Lamloum
           


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