Rebels take casualties in fight for Libya town

Sources at a hospital in Azdabiyah to the northeast said about 50 were wounded on Thursday and Friday and one civilian in the all-but-deserted town was killed when a rocket fired by Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi’s forces hit a house.

The rebels have taken the residential zone of New Brega. But that is 10 miles from the terminal and port area.

They hope that capturing the port 466 miles east of the capital Tripoli will be a tipping point in their nearly six-month campaign to oust Gadhafi. They want to begin exporting oil from Brega as quickly as possible.

But the battle for it has been going on for months. “There’s close fighting in the oil terminal area on Friday morning but maybe we can finish it off soon,” said rebel soldier Mohammad Muftah.

Troops loyal to Gadhafi were holding onto the oil facilities, firing rockets at rebel positions.
Gadhafi is clinging to power despite a near five-month-old Nato air campaign, tightening economic sanctions, and a lengthening war with rebels trying to end his 41-year rule.

The rebels have seized large swathes of the North African state, but are deeply divided and lack experience, and Thursday’s gains in the east broke weeks of stalemate.

In the west, rebel forces driving north towards the town of Zawiyah, within striking distance of Gadhafi’s stronghold in the capital, have not moved up from Thursday’s position.

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