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The World

March 24, 2011

Gadhafi forces roll back; rebels try to organize

(Continued)

Six vessels were involved the first day, and Canada's Brig. General Pierre St. Amand said 16 ships have been offered by NATO members. Five are from Turkey, the organization's sole Muslim member.

Missiles fired from submarines in the Mediterranean, bombs dropped by B-2 stealth bombers and an array of airstrikes easily totaled hundreds of millions of dollars by the fifth day of the coalition campaign.

Hueber said international forces were attacking government troops that have been storming population centers. On Wednesday evening, Libyan state television reported a "Crusader colonialist bombing targeting certain civil and military locations" in Tripoli's Tajoura district — scene of some of the heaviest past protests against Gadhafi.

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said Gadhafi can end the crisis quickly — by leaving power. She said the U.S. wants the Libyan government to "make the right decision" by instituting a cease-fire, withdrawing forces from cities and preparing for a transition that doesn't include the longtime dictator.

Some attacks by pro-Gadhafi forces continued in Misrata, where the doctor and rebel leaders said pro-Gadhafi snipers were firing on civilians from rooftops. Abdel-Hafidh Ghoga, a spokesman for the opposition forces, said 16 people were killed today, including five children.

Ghoga said people are being treated "in the hallways of buildings" because they did not dare go outside.

In Zintan, a city of 100,000 about 75 miles (120 kilometers) south of Tripoli, a resident said Gadhafi's forces were shelling from the foot of a nearby mountain, but rebels forced their retreat from all but one side of the city. After five days of fighting, Ali al-Azhari said, rebel fighters captured or destroyed several tanks and seized trucks loaded with 1,200 Grad missiles and fuel tanks. They captured five Gadhafi troops.

Al-Azhari, who spoke to The Associated Press by phone from the city, said one officer told rebels he was ordered "to turn Zintan into a desert to be smashed and flattened." Resentment against Gadhafi runs high in Zintan because it was the hometown of many of the detained army officers who took part in a failed coup in 1993.

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