Saturday, March 5, 2011

Libyan rebels capture oil port of Ras Lanuf

 Meanwhile, rebels fighting Gaddafi have taken control of the port of Ras Lanuf  (Ras al-Unuf) to the east of Tripoli. Rebel sources said, The rebels seem to be pushing further west after driving out forces loyal to Gaddafi from the oil town on Friday. Earlier they already pushed back Gaddafi forces that wanted to retake Brega (Marsa Buraiqa) and Ajdabiya. Medical sources said that at least 26 people were killed in Friday's fighting around Ras Lanuf and what rebels said was an attack by Gaddafi's forces on an arms store on the edge of the eastern town of Benghazi, where the uprising began in mid-February.
Ras Lanuf is a main oil center with a big refinery. Capturing it means that the rebels are in a strong position with more than 80% of Libya's oil facilities under their control, while Gaddafi's position will in the long run be precarious, particularly because his accounts abroad have been blocked. One of the results of the fighting in Libya is that of Libya's quota of 1,7 million barrels day about one million has disappeared from the market.

In the east  Gaddafi's forces have encircled the town of Zawiyeh, 50 km to the west of Tripoli, after an attempt to recapture the town in the early morning had failed. They were driven out and were seen manning checkpoint some 3 km from the center, later in the day. 

According to opposition forces the Gaddafi troops entered Zawiyah at six in the morning with heavy forces, hundreds of soldiers and with tanks. ''Our people fought back ...We have won for now and civilians are gathering in the square," rebel spokesman Youssef Shagan said. Fights in Zawiyah have been going on for more than a week now. Shagan said Gaddafi forces had fired high explosive rounds in central streets and dragged people from their homes. There were many casualties among civilians, rebels and soldiers, he said, although he could not give a precise number."We captured 3 APCs, two tanks and one pick-up after an hour and a half of fighting," he said, adding that government snipers had taken up positions in Zawiyah.

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