Gaddafi's forces pound Misurata, rebels killed in NATO strike

The rebels were fighting to take control of Misurata's airport, after pushing back loyalists from the city's sea port.

Khalid Azwawi, head of the local transition committee, said "our freedom fighters have managed to defeat the soldiers of Gaddafi" by forcing them out of Misurata, which has been under siege and pounded by the Libyan troops for nearly two months.

"They managed to force them to leave, but not very far. That's why Gaddafi is trying to bomb the port," he was quoted as saying by Al Jazeera.

The pan-Arab channel said there are also reports of heavy clashes between government forces and the opposition in the desert town of Kufra in Libya's remote southeast.

Reports said that at least 12 rebels were killed in a NATO air strike in Misurata. A fighter jet of the western military alliance had carried out Wednesday's bombing, the BBC quoted a rebel commander and witnesses as saying.

BBC said a NATO official was aware of the reports and was looking into them but at this stage could not confirm or deny the strike.

There were reports of a powerful blast in Tripoli soon after NATO fighter jets overflew the capital.

Aid warnings that the civil war was "moving towards stalemate", the US mulled formal recognising to Transitional National Council (TNC), the body of the Libyan rebels based in Benghazi.

Stopping short of formally recognising TNC, the US has said it is a political body which is worthy of its support.

"Chris (Special Envoy Chris Stevens) has assessed that the TNC, as we had previously reported, is a political body which is worthy of our support," US Ambassador to Libya, Gene Cretz, told reporters in Washington yesterday.

"Formal recognition of TNC, remains a legal and an international obligations issue that the Administration is still studying," he said.

"We have not made a definitive determination on that question. But that has not stopped us from doing everything that we could to support the TNC and the Libyans," Cretz said.

Several key-American allies like Italy and France have already recognised TNC in place of the Gaddafi regime of Libya but the Obama Administration has refrained so far from doing so, even as it has placed Stevens in Benghazi.

British Prime Minister David Cameron, who has been in favour of more punishing air strikes on the Libyan regime, has said he would consider arming the ill-trained ragtag rebels.

Cameron told US network CBS that he "wouldn't rule out" arming the rebels, who have been unable to hold their ground despite being helped by the NATO air strikes.

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