SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

The World

March 27, 2011

Libyan rebels take back oil town in westward push

AL-EGILA, Libya — Libyan rebels took back a key oil town and pushed westward Sunday toward the capital, seizing momentum from the international airstrikes that tipped the balance away from Moammar Gadhafi's military.

Brega, a main oil export terminal in eastern Libya, fell after a skirmish late Saturday and rebel forces moved swiftly west, seizing the tiny desert town of Al-Egila — a collection of houses and a gas station — on their way to the massive oil refining complex of Ras Lanouf.

"There was no resistance. Gadhafi's forces just melted away," said Suleiman Ibrahim, a 31-year-old volunteer, sitting in the back of a pickup truck. "This couldn't have happened without NATO. They gave us big support." He said that rebels had already reached Ras Lanouf.

Ras Lanouf and Brega combined would be responsible for a large chunk of Libya's 1.5 million barrels of daily exports, which have all but stopped since the uprising that began Feb. 15 and was inspired by the toppling of governments in Tunisia and Egypt.

"As they move round the coast, of course, the rebels will increasingly control the exit points of Libya's oil," British Defense Secretary Liam Fox told the BBC. "That will produce a very dynamic and a very different equilibrium inside Libya. How that will play out in terms of public opinion and the Gadhafi regime remains to be seen."

The Gadhafi regime on Saturday acknowledged the airstrikes had forced its troops to retreat and accused international forces of choosing sides.

"This is the objective of the coalition now, it is not to protect civilians because now they are directly fighting against the armed forces," Khaled Kaim, the deputy foreign minister, said in the capital, Tripoli. "They are trying to push the country to the brink of a civil war."

Text Only | Photo Reprints
The World

AP Video
Raw: IDF Footage Said to Show Airstrikes Raw: Aftermath of Airstrike in Gaza Raw: Thousands March on Pakistani Parliament Raw: World's Oldest Man Lives in Japan Raw: Deadly Landslides in Japan Raw: Explosions in Gaza As Airstrikes Resume Today in History August 20 US Officials: Video Shows American's Beheading US Trying to Verify Video of American's Killing Rockets Fired From Gaza, in Breach of Ceasefire Raw: Japanese Military Live Fire Exercise Today in History August 19 Raw: Russian Aid Convoy Crosses Into Ukraine Raw: Building Collapse in South Africa, 9 Dead Assange Gets Cryptic About Leaving Embassy in UK Raw: Pope Francis Meets 'Comfort Women' Kurdish Peshmergas Retake Mosul Dam WikiLeaks Founder Says He'll Leave Embassy Soon Raw: Israel Destroys Killing Suspects' Homes Raw: Pope Celebrates Mass in South Korea
NDN Video
Crews rescue elderly woman trapped inside flooded minivan Taylor Swift Reveals New Album 1989 is Full-On Pop Serious Flash Flooding in Arizona Man Poses for New Mugshot Photo Wearing Shirt with Old Mugshot Photo On It Disquieting times for Malaysia's 'fish listeners' Caught On Camera: Johnny Manziel Obscene Gesture Rita Ora Embraces the Ice Bucket Challenge Bird surprises soccer player Ashley Young during game Chapter Two: Never too late to become an artist Ice Bucket Challenge Goes Viral, Raises Over $15M For ALS Damaging Winds Stop the Show! In the Cockpit of the Air Force's Elite Squadron Pathologist: Autopsy Shows Teen Repeatedly Shot Christina Aguilera Has a Baby Girl Marvel Fans: Watch Dancing Baby Groot Over and Over! Raw: Protesters, Police Clash in Ferguson Gov. Rick Perry responds to indictment Breaking: Officials release name of police officer in Ferguson shooting Man Shot As Protesters Defy Curfew in Ferguson Justin Bieber & Selena Gomez Back Together for Two ‘Secret’ Dates