Entries in Rebel Forces (39)


Gadhafi's Forces Score New Success in Libya

MAHMUD HAMS/AFP/Getty Images(TRIPOLI, Libya) -- The seesaw battle for control of Libya took another turn Tuesday as forces loyal to Col. Moammar Gadhafi managed to overwhelm rebels who had gained ground in the oil-rich city of Brega.

Rebel fighters were unable to hold their gains from the day before after coming under a heavy barrage of rockets and artillery from the government's better-equipped forces.  As a result, the rebels were forced to head back to the city of Ajdabiya, a further indication that the ongoing conflict has essentially turned into a stalemate.

The only way anti-Gadhafi fighters have made any headway is with support from NATO air strikes, which the coalition says are used primarily to protect civilians.  A no-fly zone over Libya has grounded Gadhafi's air force.

NATO also claims that it has destroyed about a third of Gadhafi's heavy artillery although his loyalists have been able to move tanks and other heavy equipment into populated areas of the rebel-held city of Misrata, which prevents the alliance from targeting these sites.

In other developments, the rebels say they are prepared to export oil from Libya for the first time since taking arms to overthrow Gadhafi's regime.  The European Union said it would lift its embargo on Libyan oil exports in that case as long as profits aren't pocketed by Gahdafi or his government.

It's believed the rebels control about a dozen Libyan oil fields.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Gadhafi Offers Major Changes, Provided He Stays in Power

MAHMUD TURKIA/AFP/Getty Images(TRIPOLI, Libya) -- A representative for Col. Moammar Gadhafi said Monday that the Libyan government would be willing to hold elections and enact democratic reforms, with one catch: Gadhafi would have to remain in power indefinitely.

With forces loyal to the Libyan leader battling rebel fighters for control of the country, spokesman Moussa Ibrahim claimed Gadhafi has “symbolic significance” and that his fate should be in the hands of the Libyan people.

However, opposition forces have adamantly stated that Gadhafi must step down immediately before negotiations can begin.  That’s also the stance of Western powers, who continue to pound Gadhafi’s positions on the ground, helping rebels to keep their hold on the oil-rich city of Brega.

Gadhafi has sent an envoy to various European capitals to try and convince leaders to accept Libya’s offer for an “international dialogue” to resolve the crisis.  So far, there’s been no rush to accept the ceasefire offer.

Still, British Prime Minister David Cameron acknowledged that “at some stage, there will have to be a genuine ceasefire, then the political process can begin.”

In other developments, The New York Times reported a plan by two of Gadhafi's sons that would involve their father stepping down while son Saif al-Islam Gadhafi oversees a democratic transition.  That offer was termed unacceptable by opposition leaders.

With the U.S. handing most military missions to NATO, coalition officials are still trying to decide whether to arm the rebels.  Concerning that option, former President Bill Clinton told on ABC News Monday, “I might need to know a little more; I would be inclined to do it.”

He quickly added he was speaking for himself and not the Obama administration, for which his wife, Hillary Clinton, is secretary of state.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Bill Clinton Says He Wouldn't Rule Out Arming Libya's Rebels

ABC News(SAN DIEGO) -- Former President Bill Clinton said he thinks the United States should consider arming the rebels in Libya's civil war.

"It would depend...and I might need to know a little more, but I would be inclined to do it," Clinton told ABC News Sunday in San Diego during an exclusive interview.

Clinton was in San Diego for his annual Clinton Global Initiative University Meeting.

The uprising in Libya stared in February during a wave of social and political unrest in the Middle East.  Fighting has escalated all across the country, but the rebels have found themselves outgunned by Libyan leader Col. Moammar Gadhafi's forces, which are better equipped.

Last month the United Nations authorized a no-fly zone over the North African nation to prevent further attacks on civilians from Gadhafi's troops in the air.

The United States backed the no-fly zone and has also authorized additional support for the anti-Gadhafi fighters, but key U.S. lawmakers and top officials in the government of President Barack Obama have said they are not comfortable with arming the rebels -- apparently because not enough is known about them.

But Clinton said he wouldn't completely rule out the idea of supplying arms to Libya's rebels.

"Let me just say this.  I sure wouldn't shut the door to it.  I think ... we may need to know a little more," he said.

Clinton, husband of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, stressed that he was speaking without "any official sanction" whatsoever.

"I'm just speaking from myself.  But I certainly wouldn't take that off the table, too," he said.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Are Pro- and Anti-Gadhafi Forces Battling to a Stalemate in Libya?

ROBERTO SCHMIDT/AFP/Getty Images(TRIPOLI, Libya) -- Despite the pounding his forces have taken from an international coalition intent on assisting his enemies, Libyan Col. Moammar Gadhafi does not plan to go away quietly.

Pro-government fighters launched a counteroffensive Tuesday to offset gains made by rebels emboldened by a no-fly zone over Libya and attacks made by U.S. and NATO warplanes and ships to weaken Gadhafi's ground forces.

Over the past several days, the rebels have marched almost unimpeded from their stronghold of Benghazi, Libya's second most populous city, retaking territories they had lost to Gadhafi's loyalists before the United Nations approved a resolution to create the no-fly zone that neutralized the government's air power.

It appeared that by early last Monday that the rebels had gained control of Gadhafi's hometown of Sirte, which is critical if they are to continue westward to Tripoli.  However, that turned out not to be the case, as Gadhafi's military unleashed a barrage of missile and rocket fire that pushed the rebels back eastward.

On Tuesday, government forces were again striking the oil city of Ras Lanuf, which has changed hands three times already, while NATO-led forces held off on more air strikes, which officially are intended to protect civilians.

While the situation in Libya remains fluid and uncertain, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton spoke at a conference in London about continuing military action in Libya, now led by NATO, as well as ramping up the "political and diplomatic pressure that makes clear to Gadhafi that he must go."

Clinton said that no decision has been made about agreeing to the rebels' request for arms, although such action would not violate the U.N. resolution allowing the creation of the no-fly zone over Libya.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Libyan Rebels Advance to Sirte as NATO Assumes Command

ABC News(TRIPOLI, Libya) -- Air raids targeting the Libyan city of Sirte Sunday night aided rebels advancing towards the city.  It was also confirmed that NATO will now be assuming the entire mission in the war-torn country, including all air strikes and the civilian protection mission.

Sirte, which is Moammar Gadhafi's hometown, lies halfway between the rebel-held east and the government-controlled west.  Taking the city is a major coup for the rebels, who are quickly advancing toward the capitol city of Tripoli.

Earlier Sunday, rebels regained two key oil complexes along Libya's coastal highway.  Their westward march towards Sirte mirrors their earlier advancement towards the capitol, but this week they had powerful air forces bombarding Gadhafi's military and clearing a path.

Shortly after nightfall, air raids on both Tripoli and Sirte began, Libyan state television confirmed.  Fighting began in the contested city of Misrata -- which lies between Sirte and Tripoli -- as residents reported that pro-Gadhafi forces were firing on residential areas.

Meanwhile, it was confirmed that NATO will assume command of all aerial operations in Libya, taking over from the U.S.-led force.

According to a senior Obama administration official who spoke on condition of anonymity, NATO will now assume the entire mission of implementing U.N. Security Council resolution 1973, which demands an immediate ceasefire in Libya, including an end to the current attacks against civilians.

This fulfills President Obama's promise to take the leading edge with America's unique capabilities, then quickly turn over authority to NATO, the official said.

More countries should be contributing assets to the operation, the official said, adding that not every country will have to take part in every aspect of the mission.  While some may contribute to enforcing the arms embargo or the no-fly zone only, others may participate in bombings to protect civilians.

NATO will lead all of it, the official confirmed, stressing that the mission is to strike at anyone who targets civilians, not to support the Libyan rebels.  NATO commanders will have the authority to pick bombing targets and won't have to seek permission from a political body first, the official noted.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Gadhafi Forces Pound Rebel Strongholds as Coalition Mulls Next Move

MAHMUD TURKIA/AFP/Getty Images(TRIPOLI, Libya) -- The allied effort to put pressure on Libyan strongman Moammar Gadhafi seems to have emboldened those fighting to keep him in power.

Despite claiming a ceasefire, pro-government fighters continued their onslaught on cities where rebel forces maintain control.  In the city of Misurata, there were reports Tuesday of 40 people killed and 189 wounded by Gadhafi loyalists.

The Western coalition may be planning a stronger response to neutralize Gadhafi's forces attacking Misurata.  Direct attacks on his ground troops are expected in the coming days.

Meanwhile, the coalition led by the U.S. has intensified missile attacks on targets in Tripoli.  It's believed the mission that began last Saturday to knock out Libyan air defense and establish a no-fly zone over the country is near completion.

The bombing in Tripoli, however, didn't deter Gadhafi from making an appearance Tuesday night outside his compound there, where he vowed his forces would achieve victory against the rebels and foreign coalition.

"We will be victorious in the end … I do not fear storms that sweep the horizon, nor do I fear the planes that throw black destruction," the Libyan leader said.  "This assault ... is by a bunch of fascists who will end up in the dustbin of history."

"I am resistant, my house is here in my tent... I am the rightful owner, and the creator of tomorrow," he added.  "I am here.  I am here.  I am here."

Still, Gadhafi may have suffered a personal loss.  Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Tuesday there were unconfirmed reports that one of Gadhafi's six sons, Khamis Gadhafi, was killed in a suicide attack Saturday.

As the conflict continues, President Obama has spoken of a limited action in Libya and for the U.S. to hand over leadership responsibility for the effort to the allies in a "matter of days."

His goal is being complicated by arguments among the allies on how the campaign, dubbed Operation Odyssey Dawn, will continue and who exactly will be in charge.  To that end, Obama, who is wrapping up a trip in South and Central America, spoke with his counterparts in Britain and France to get them on board with a plan to allow NATO to head the mission.

However, NATO members in Brussels failed to reach a consensus on the command structure for a second day Tuesday.  The French have suggested a political steering committee, compromised of the 13 members taking part in Operation Odyssey Dawn, to oversee NATO command and control responsibilities.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


France Becomes First Country to Recognize Libyan Opposition

France's President Nicolas Sarkozy shakes hands with Ali al-Essawi, next to Mahmud Jibril, of Libya's rebel national council. ERIC FEFERBERG/AFP/Getty Images(PARIS) -- France formally recognized the Libyan opposition's Interim Governing Council Thursday, becoming the first country to do so.

President Nicolas Sarkozy's office said France sees the council as the "legitimate representative" of the people in Libya.

Thursday's announcement came as air strikes were launched against Libyan rebel forces in the oil port city of Ras Lanouf and NATO began its talks on possibly establishing a no-fly zone in the country.

Seceratary of State Hillary Clinton announced that she will be meeting with members of the Libyan opposition in Washington and when she travels to the region next week.

 Clinton’s meeting would be the highest level US official to meet with the Libyan opposition. In the past week the US Ambassador to Libya Gene Cretz has met with the opposition in Rome and Cairo.

 Clinton’s remarks came during her ongoing opening statement before the House Appropriations Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations and Related Programs

 Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


No Move Yet by the West to Intervene in Libyan Conflict

Rebel fighters opposing Libyan ruler Moammar Gadhafi organize ammunition at Ras Lanuf. ROBERTO SCHMIDT/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The Obama administration is still reluctant to take any concrete action to stop the bloodshed in Libya following a meeting of senior advisors at the White House Wednesday.

White House spokesman Jay Carney told reporters, "We are not at a decision point.  We are considering these options.  We are actively considering a no-fly zone; we are very committed to pursuing a process by which the options that we do decide on that we work with our international partners to take them and implement them."

The president and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton have already made it clear that there will be no steps taken without the consent of the international community.

Getting approval from the United Nations for a no-fly zone over Libya, which would follow some military action, might be difficult since Security Council members Russia and China are allies of Libyan strongman Moammar Gadhafi.

As it is, Gadhafi has stressed that imposing a no-fly zone would compel his followers to take up arms against Western nations they already blame for the unrest in Libya that began three weeks ago with a rebel uprising that wrested control of much of the eastern part of the country from government forces.

However, since then, Gadhafi has managed to hold onto his power base in Tripoli while beating back rebel advances.  There is uncertainty over whether government loyalists have retaken some western cities, including Zawiya, which is just 30 miles from the capitol.

In the rebel stronghold of Benghazi, Mustafa Abdul-Jalil, who heads the interim government, implored the U.S. and its allies to quickly establish a no-fly zone, saying otherwise, "the longer the situation carries on, the more blood is shed.

Gadhafi has responded to this plea by offering a $400,000 reward to anyone who captures and hands over Abdul-Jalil to him.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Libya: 'Celebratory Gunfire' in Tripoli, Gov't Refutes Rebel Advances

MAHMUD TURKIA/AFP/Getty Images(TRIPOLI, Libya) -- Celebrations have broken out in the Libyan capital of Tripoli as Moammar Gadhafi's supporters claim his forces overtook rebels in two key towns. Rebel fighters, however, claim that the cities of Ras Lanuf and Tobruk are only the latest to fall in a westward takeover that now has its sights set on Gadhafi's hometown of Sirte.

"You will hear tomorrow that Sirte has fallen," a rebel fighter told ABC News.

As they prepare to take Sirte, a Gadhafi stronghold, rebels say that a "massacre" is taking place in Bin Jawad, a city about 30 miles northwest of Ras Lanuf. A fighter told ABC that Gadhafi’s forces there were firing indiscriminately into civilian areas and that there were not enough ambulances to carry the wounded.

Meanwhile, reports have surfaced of warplanes hitting rebel forces as they advance toward Tripoli, where residents woke up to continuous gunfire.

While the government insists the gunfire was celebratory, some residents say the sustained fire early Sunday morning sounded more like a firefight. The BBC and Al Jazeera reported gunfire by the main airport, but both outlets say it is impossible to tell who is shooting and why.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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