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Libya: Rebels battle for road to Gaddafi hometown Sirte

Libyan rebels are battling for control of the road leading to the heartland of government loyalists.

The rebel army has been moving rapidly westwards, but came under heavy attack on the approach to Col Muammar Gaddafi's birthplace of Sirte.

Nato, which now runs the coalition action, has denied its strikes are to provide cover for a rebel advance.

Britain and France have urged Col Gaddafi's supporters to defect "before it is too late".

The anti-Gaddafi rebels have seized a number of key coastal communities and important oil installations in recent days, including Ras Lanuf, Brega, Uqayla and Bin Jawad.

Earlier on Monday, the rebels said they had seized Sirte, but the BBC's Ben Brown in Bin Jawad says it is now clear their progress was halted before they reached the town.

They came under repeated ambush from government troops, says our correspondent.

Reports said bombardments of the road between Bin Jawad and Nawfaliyah sent the rebels fleeing back towards Bin Jawad.

"This is the frontline. The army has stopped over there, we are stopping here," one fighter told Reuters, indicating the road towards the town of Nawfaliyah.

AFP news agency says the shells fired at the poorly armed rebel convoy landed mostly on sand dunes.

"It won't be as easy as we thought to take Sirte and then march on [the capital] Tripoli," one rebel told the news agency.

But we won't stop - we'll advance. They can't hold us up for long."

AFP said the rebels had again begun to move cautiously towards Sirte, which is about halfway along the coast between Tripoli and Benghazi.

Nato command

On Sunday, Nato began taking over control of the coalition military action in Libya.

The mission had previously been under US command, with the alliance responsible for enforcing the no-fly zone and arms embargo

The head of the Nato operation, Canada's Lt Gen Charles Bouchard, has rejected suggestions that the coalition air strikes were to provide cover for the rebels to advance.

"Our goal is to protect and help the civilians and population centres under the threat of attack," he told a news conference.

Lt Gen Bouchard said the alliance was taking steps to ensure "minimum collateral damage".

"Our job is to ensure the safety of people and we will do what it takes to do that, but we will also ensure that we ensure their safety in doing our operation," he said.

Britain's Ministry of Defence said its Tornado GR4 aircraft destroyed ammunition bunkers on Monday morning in the Sabha region, in the southern Libya desert

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has criticised the alliance action, saying it goes beyond the remit of the UN Security Council resolution and amounted to interference in a "civil war".

The battle for Misrata, the last significant rebel-held city in western Libya, has continued, with Gaddafi forces reportedly shelling the city on Monday.

But later in the day, the foreign ministry said a ceasefire was in place and that calm had been restored.

"The city of Misrata now enjoys security and tranquillity and public services have started to recover their ability to provide customary services to all citizens," the state news agency Jana quoted officials as saying.

Britain and France have issued a joint statement calling on Col Gaddafi's supporters to "leave him before it is too late".

"We call on all Libyans who believe that Gaddafi is leading Libya into a disaster to take the initiative now to organise a transition process," they said.

The countries said this process could involve the "pioneering" Interim Transitional National Council in Benghazi and "civil society leaders as well as all those prepared to join the process of transition to democracy".

28 March 2011 Last updated at 11:53 ET

Libya: Rebels battle for road to Gaddafi hometown Sirte

Rebel fighters on the road from Bin Jawad, Libya (28 March 2011) Some rebels have said they do not believe Sirte will be as easy to recapture as the other towns

Continue reading the main story

Libyan rebels are battling for control of the road leading to the heartland of government loyalists.

The rebel army has been moving rapidly westwards, but came under heavy attack on the approach to Col Muammar Gaddafi's birthplace of Sirte.

Nato, which now runs the coalition action, has denied its strikes are to provide cover for a rebel advance.

Britain and France have urged Col Gaddafi's supporters to defect "before it is too late".

The anti-Gaddafi rebels have seized a number of key coastal communities and important oil installations in recent days, including Ras Lanuf, Brega, Uqayla and Bin Jawad.

Earlier on Monday, the rebels said they had seized Sirte, but the BBC's Ben Brown in Bin Jawad says it is now clear their progress was halted before they reached the town.

They came under repeated ambush from government troops, says our correspondent.

Continue reading the main story

In facts: Sirte

  • Birthplace of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi
  • Port city 450km (280 miles) east of Libya's capital Tripoli
  • Halfway along Libya's northern coast between Tripoli and rebel stronghold of Benghazi
  • Home to some ministerial offices as Col Gaddafi tried to transfer more authority
  • Population of around 140,000
  • Libya: The turning of the tide
  • Col Gaddafi's hometown of Sirte
  • Reports said bombardments of the road between Bin Jawad and Nawfaliyah sent the rebels fleeing back towards Bin Jawad.

    "This is the frontline. The army has stopped over there, we are stopping here," one fighter told Reuters, indicating the road towards the town of Nawfaliyah.

    AFP news agency says the shells fired at the poorly armed rebel convoy landed mostly on sand dunes.

    "It won't be as easy as we thought to take Sirte and then march on [the capital] Tripoli," one rebel told the news agency.

    "But we won't stop - we'll advance. They can't hold us up for long."

    AFP said the rebels had again begun to move cautiously towards Sirte, which is about halfway along the coast between Tripoli and Benghazi.

    Nato command

    On Sunday, Nato began taking over control of the coalition military action in Libya.

    The mission had previously been under US command, with the alliance responsible for enforcing the no-fly zone and arms embargo.

    Continue reading the main story

    Analysis

    image of John Simpson John Simpson World Affairs Editor, Tripoli

    As Gaddafi's hometown, Sirte has a great deal of support for the leader. We're told there have been signs of discontent and perhaps a split among Gaddafi's people there, but nevertheless its importance is that it's the only major place in the centre of the country still held by Gaddafi forces.

    They've lost the whole of the east and if they lose Sirte they would have lost the middle of the country as well. The rebels would feel their progress towards Tripoli was unstoppable.

    Although seemingly premature, I suspect the reports of rebels taking the city are having a psychological impact on Gaddafi supporters in Tripoli.

    Three weeks ago it was obvious that the morale of the Gaddafi forces wasn't terribly high and now, combined with the attacks of the coalition forces, it must be worse.

    The quicker the rebel progress goes, the faster morale here will start to buckle. But if progress slows I suspect the reverse may happen, and resistance will stiffen.

    The head of the Nato operation, Canada's Lt Gen Charles Bouchard, has rejected suggestions that the coalition air strikes were to provide cover for the rebels to advance.

    "Our goal is to protect and help the civilians and population centres under the threat of attack," he told a news conference.

    Lt Gen Bouchard said the alliance was taking steps to ensure "minimum collateral damage".

    "Our job is to ensure the safety of people and we will do what it takes to do that, but we will also ensure that we ensure their safety in doing our operation," he said.

    Britain's Ministry of Defence said its Tornado GR4 aircraft destroyed ammunition bunkers on Monday morning in the Sabha region, in the southern Libya desert

    Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has criticised the alliance action, saying it goes beyond the remit of the UN Security Council resolution and amounted to interference in a "civil war".

    The battle for Misrata, the last significant rebel-held city in western Libya, has continued, with Gaddafi forces reportedly shelling the city on Monday.

    But later in the day, the foreign ministry said a ceasefire was in place and that calm had been restored.

    "The city of Misrata now enjoys security and tranquillity and public services have started to recover their ability to provide customary services to all citizens," the state news agency Jana quoted officials as saying.

    Britain and France have issued a joint statement calling on Col Gaddafi's supporters to "leave him before it is too late".

    "We call on all Libyans who believe that Gaddafi is leading Libya into a disaster to take the initiative now to organise a transition process," they said.

    The countries said this process could involve the "pioneering" Interim Transitional National Council in Benghazi and "civil society leaders as well as all those prepared to join the process of transition to democracy".

    "We encourage them to begin a national political dialogue, leading to a representative process of transition, constitutional reform and preparation for free and fair elections."

    Meanwhile, Qatar has become the first Arab nation to recognise the rebel leadership - the Transitional National Council - as the official representatives of the Libyan people.

    Source:http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/

     

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  • कोइराला र थापाबीच चुनावी एकताबारे छë

     

    भदौ १४, काडमाण्डौ
    नेपाली काङ्ग्रेस सभापति सुशील कोइराला र राष्ट्रिय प्रजातन्त्र पार्टीका अध्यक्ष सूर्यहादुर थापाबीच प्रजातान्त्रिक शक्ति एक भएर चुनाव लड्ने बारेमा छलफल भएको छ । कोइराला निवास महाराजगञ्जमा आज भएको भेटमा थापाले मङ्सिर ४ को चुनावमा प्रजातान्त्रिक बिचार बोकेका पार्टीबीच एकता गरेर जानुपर्ने प्रस्ताव थापाले राख्नु भएको थियो । जवाफमा कोइरालाले लोकतान्त्रिक शक्तिसँग तालमेल गर्न काङ्ग्रेस तयार रहेको बताउनु भएको राप्रपा केन्द्रीय सदस्य किरण गिरीले जानकारी दिनुभयो । मुलुकको पछिल्लो राजनीतिक अवस्था, असन्तुष्ट मोर्चाहरुको माग र सहमतिको प्रयासको बारेमा समेत भेटमा कुराकानी भएको बुझिएको छ ।

     

     

     

     

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