Gaddafi Forces Recapture Zawiya, Beat Back Libya RebelsWorld | March 11, 2011, Friday // 04:41| views
Rebel fighters call to their fellow fighters to join them as they mount a counter attack, after having fallen back from the town of Ras Lanuf, Libya, 10 March 2011. EPA/BGNES
Troops loyal to Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi has scored major victories against the pro-democracy rebels by retaking the key city of Zawiya and the oil port of Ras Lanuf.
The Gaddafi regime forces have launched a major counter offensive against the rebels using constant air strikes against them.
The massive counter offensive appears to be in line with a "we're coming to get you"-statement made by the son of the Libyan dictator, Seif al Islam Gaddafi, with respect to the rebels.
"We will never ever welcome the Americans here. Libya is not a piece of cake, we are not a Mickey Mouse," Seif al Islam said.
At about the same time, NATO defense minister held a summit in Brussels but decided to shy away from military involvement in Libya for lack of an internationally sanctioned mandate, snubbing even the calls for the setting of a no fly zone to save the rebels from Gaddafi's aerial bombardment.
Western journalists in the city of Zawiya, west of Tripoli, have confirmed early Friday the Gaddafi regime's claims that the city had fallen after days of bombardment, the BBC reported.
The Libyan city of Zawiya has fallen, and Gaddafi's forces are trying to hide evidence of what went on there, while trying to hunt down those who fought them, CNN said.
Earlier, the rebels fled from the oil port of Ras Lanuf in the east. Various international reports have indicated that the losses of Zawiya and Ras Lanuf have come as the morale of the rebels – consisting of civilian irregulars and some defecting army units – is crumbling in the face of the much better equipped army of the dictator.
Gaddafi even used the navy to assault the positions of the rebels on the coast.
With the latest victories, Gaddafi as gained major bridgehead to push deeper into rebel territory and towards the rebels' capital Benghazi.
But Mustafa Abdul Jalil, who has emerged as the main opposition leader, has given a defiant interview to the BBC urging the international community to follow the lead of France by recognizing the rebel administration in Benghazi as the legitimate government of Libya.
He called on Western governments to help with the fight, saying: "Everybody should know that there is no balance between our capabilities and Muammar Gaddafi's. He is besieging cities to ban people from leaving them."
Reports by international correspondents indicate that the Gaddafi forces have not only wrecked the city of Zawiya but have engaged in looting and violent revenge against anyone suspected in helping the rebels.
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