Monday, April 18, 2011

Libyan rebels try to fight off attack on Ajdabiya by Gaddafi's forces

LIBYA - Forces loyal to Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi kept up an offensive on the rebels' eastern frontline outpost of Ajdabiyah, while the West again ruled out sending ground troops to help the rebel cause. Some rebels on Saturday made it into the outskirts of Brega, 50 miles to the west, but many others retreated to Ajdabiyah after six were killed by rockets fired by Gaddafi loyalists on the exposed coastal road joining the two towns.  Many fled Ajdabiyah on Sunday as loud explosions boomed across the town.

In Misrata, the last major rebel foothold in western Libya, rebels fought Gaddafi's forces Sunday in close-quarters battles in the city center of  Seventeen people were killed, an NGO worker and an opposition activist said. Rebels fought government forces back from an area around a central produce market, regaining a small sliver of territory, said Rida al-Montasser, a local activist reached by Skype.
He said a hospital report that he received from a doctor, showed 17 people, including rebels, were killed and 74 others were injured. A ship of Doctors without Borders evacuated 100 wounded to Tunsia on Sunday (picture).

Western countries have ruled out sending ground troops, a position reinforced by the British prime minister on Sunday."What we've said is there is no question of invasion or an occupation -- this is not about Britain putting boots on the ground," David Cameron told Sky News in an interview.

Demonstration in Banias (Reuters)
  SYRIA - Thousands of protesters have taken to the streets in Syria, despite promised reforms by President Bashar al-Assad. Human rights activists said probably as many as 12 people were shot dead at a funeral north of the city of Homs. They gathered the names of eight people: Abdel jalil Deeb, Fadi Sam, Khald al-Wazziri, Kamel el-Yahya, Khaled Abu al-Su'd, Mohammed Bilal al-Saqa, Rami Alkadankji, Bilal Bakur Radwan. Rallies were also reported in Aleppo, Baniyas, Lattakia, Deraa and nearby Suwaida. Some 200 people have been killed and hundreds arrested in weeks of protests.
On Saturday, Mr Assad said he expected the country's 48-year-old emergency law to be lifted by next week.
  Mr Assad told the cabinet a legal commission asked to examine the lifting of the emergency law had come to its conclusions.New security legislation would be introduced in place of the law, he said, adding that the new government should also study ideas for a multi-party system and greater press freedom.

 YEMEN - Yemeni security forces opened fire on anti-government protesters gathered in the capital, Sanaa, on Sunday, eyewitnesses say. Hundreds of thousands took part in the demonstrations to reiterate calls for President Ali Abdullah Saleh to step down. Also many women took part, angry at President Saleh's comments last week that their behaviour was against Islam. Authorities opened fire with live ammunition and tear gas, witnesses said.
Mohammed al-Abahi, the head doctor at the protesters' field hospital, told the Associated Press that at least 30 people were wounded, including two hit by bullets. There were also reports of clashes between demonstrators and security forces in the city of Damar, more to the south, and in which several people were wounded. Protests were also reported in other cities, including Taiz, Aden and al-Hodeida.
Saleh, who has been in power for more than three decades, has said he is willing to hand over power, but only to 'safe hands'. An opposition delegation, led by former Foreign Minister Mohammed Basindwa, is meanwhile in Saudi Arabia for talks with Gulf Arab mediators.

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