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Potential Breakthrough In Fighting As Libyan Rebels Claim Control Of Misurata Airport

Potential Breakthrough In Fighting As Libyan Rebels Claim Control Of Misurata Airport

Libyan rebels say they seized control of the airport in Misurata on Wednesday, in a potentially significant turn of events for the opposition movement.

The western port city of Misurata, an important rebel stronghold over the course of the Libyan conflict, has also been the scene of unrelenting fighting as forces loyal to Libyan leader Colonel Muammar el-Gaddafi have continually pummeled the city both on land and from the air. The “ferocity” of the combat in Misurata, as CNN aptly noted, “symbolizes the animosity between the pro- and anti-Gadhafi forces.”

As MSNBC reports:

Even though some of the combat reports are difficult to confirm, they seem to represent a major boost for the rebels prospects’ after weeks of stalemate in their effort to end Gadhafi’s 42-year rule over Libya.

According to a rebel who identified himself as Abdel Salam, rebels were in total control of the airport in Misrata’s southern outskirts after two days of fighting. He said five rebels were killed and 105 injured.

“This is a major victory,” he said. “The Gadhafi forces have been suffering lack of supplies … Their morale was very low after being defeated several times and pushed back.”

Misrata rebels are also pushing west, toward the nearby city of Zlitan, and then advance farther in the direction of the Libyan capital, Tripoli.

“The main goal is to topple down the tyrant and to liberate the capital,” Abdel Salam said. “Now Misrata is free … Gadhafi can’t get in here.”

Rebels also reported a smattering of other victories Wednesday, but control of Misurata airport is not only symbolically important, it also means rebels and residents will have renewed access to humanitarian aid. 

Aid has been severely curtailed over the past two months as government forces have continually pounded the port with shells and more recently scattered both the water and the port area with mines, preventing most aid ships from docking. As a top U.N. official told the U.N. Security Council this week, Misurata has been “at the forefront” of U.N. humanitarian concerns.

As the BBC‘s Andrew Harding offered in his analysis of the situation,

The broader question is whether the rebels can now hold onto both the airport, and a larger swathe of territory recently captured on the western side of the city. The next few days should offer some insights into the resilience of pro-Gadaffi forces in the area, and their determination to recapture the only fully “liberated” chunk of western Libya.

 

To read more about the conflicts in the Middle East and North Africa click here  

 

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Libya uprising map by Rafy courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

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7 comments

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5:52AM PDT on May 16, 2011

While we couch potatoes cheer on the killing, and dare to blame Obama.
Can't we see this is comming to US eventually?
How long will we put up with TSA? CIA? Monsanto? War on drugs with a tattered bill of rights? Etc.

10:50AM PDT on May 13, 2011

Why are we medelng within other sovereign country's internal issues. Why must we be involved in a 3rd war. Congratulations Mr. President you managed to get us in another war. What was our excuse??? To protect citizens?? How about the Syrian citizens that are being killed EVERY day?? There have been more civilians killed in Syria (A state supporter of terrorism) than in Libya. However we do nothing... even when your foreign policy was to protect civilians??

I am not advocating involvement n Syria. What I am advocating is leaving other country's alone and letting them solve their own problems themselves. They started this problem internally I am sure they can solve this problem. USA butt out of other country's internal affairs.

5:48PM PDT on May 12, 2011

@Jonathon Y.: Agreed, on the proviso that it would not include anything military. You never know who might try and mis-appropriate C4, Stingers, etc.


@Edward M.: Regarding this quote from you - "Without outside help, these 'rebels' wouldn't be in any position to take over anything.

When is similar help going to be given to Bahraini rebels, Syrian rebels, Yemeni rebels and... have I forgotton to mention anyone else?" - I think the U.S. and her allies have learned a lesson from the 1980's campaign Afghanistan - "Don't feed the tigers!!" or basically, be VERY careful who you support, lest they turn on YOU!! I'm sure the Lybian people want nothing more than to be rid of Gaddafi, which I fully support. However, in the place of senior NATO commanders, I would be VERY reluctant to support granting top-of-the-range military hardware as aid, for fear that Islamist fundamentalist elements would misappropriate it. Simple as that.

12:46PM PDT on May 12, 2011

Hold on - hold on!

6:22AM PDT on May 12, 2011

Without outside help, these 'rebels' wouldn't be in any position to take over anything.
When is similar help going to be given to Bahraini rebels, Syrian rebels, Yemeni rebels and... have I forgotton to mention anyone else?

7:08PM PDT on May 11, 2011

Noted.

5:51PM PDT on May 11, 2011

NATO should airlift massive supplies to the people, now that Turkey is on board. And give all necessary military equipment to the rebels, at least to balance what Qaddafi is able to buy. Why delay the inevitable?

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