Sunday, May 08, 2011

Libya News Bulletin: British Jets Bomb Sirte; Some Rebels Surrender in Misrata

UK jets conduct raids on missile facility in Libya

Associated Press, Updated: May 08, 2011 17:51 IST

British fighter planes have carried out a bombing raid on a missile facility near the Libyan town of Sirte

Two Royal Air Force Tornado jets attacked FROG-7 rocket launchers and canisters used to carry Scud missiles on Friday morning, according to the Ministry of Defence (MoD).

MoD footage released on Sunday showed strikes on the military facility near Sirte, the birthplace of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi.

Between 30 and 40 canisters used to transport Scud missiles, which can hit targets up to 300 kilometres (186 miles) away, were struck in the
bombing raid.

The UK Defence Secretary said the weapons targeted could cause large-scale civilian casualties if used against an urban area.

He said that the mission was part of the international coalition's task, mandated by the UN Security Council resolution, of protecting
the Libyan civilian population.

More than 5,300 sorties have been flown by NATO forces over Libya since the implementation of a no-fly zone in March.

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Latest update 14:20 08.05.11

Group of Libya rebels surrender to government forces, says state TV

Al-Jamahiriya television gave no exact numbers but quoted a military spokesman as saying that some of those who had handed themselves over made recorded 'confessions' which will be broadcast on television

By Reuters

Groups of rebels in the insurgent-held Libyan city of Misrata have turned themselves in to government forces, state television reported
on Sunday.

Al-Jamahiriya television gave no exact numbers but quoted a military spokesman as saying that some of those who had surrendered made recorded "confessions" which will be broadcast on television later.

Government forces destroyed four fuel storage tanks and set several others ablaze in Misrata on Saturday, dealing a blow to the port
city's ability to withstand a government siege.

The attack on the western city came as artillery rounds fired by forces loyal to Muammar Gadhafi fell in Tunisia in an escalation of fighting near the border with rebels trying to end the embattled leader's rule of more than four decades.

Misrata, the last remaining city in the west under rebel control, has been under siege for more than two months and has witnessed some of the war's fiercest fighting.

Rebels gave varying accounts of the bombardment but said it hit fuel used for export as well as domestic consumption.

"Four (fuel) tanks were totally destroyed and a huge fire erupted which spread now to the other four. We cannot extinguish it because we
do not have the right tools," rebel spokesman Ahmed Hassan told Reuters.

"Now the city will face a major problem. Those were the only sources of fuel for the city. These tanks could have kept the city for three
months with enough fuel," he said by telephone.

Video of the incident posted on YouTube by Libyan students in Misrata showed firefighters turning water hoses on a raging fire in a vain
attempt to extinguish it.

Government forces last month flew at least one helicopter reconnaissance mission over Misrata, according to rebels.

NATO coalition aircraft have been bombing Libyan government military targets and enforcing a no-fly zone under a UN resolution. Western and Arab countries this week agreed to provide rebels with millions of dollars in non-military aid to help them keep services and the economy running.

Rebels have long been demanding more heavy weapons to take on the Libyan leader's better-armed and trained forces.

The head of the rebel forces in eastern Libya retracted an assertion by a rebel spokesman that Italy had agreed to supply them with weapons to help in their fight to oust Gadhafi.

"We have not received any weapons, not from Italy nor from any other country," Abdel Fattah Younes told al Jazeera television. "Maybe one
of the brothers failed to express himself properly ... we apologize to Italy on behalf of the brothers in the National Council."

A spokesman for the rebels' Transitional National Council had told a news conference in Benghazi earlier in the day that weapons would be provided to the insurgents soon.

In Rome, a Foreign Ministry spokesman said no such agreement had been reached.

Italy has backed the rebels, formally recognising the transitional council as the only legitimate representatives of the country, but it
is unlikely it would go further than other countries in the anti-Gaddafi coalition.

Fighting has intensified in Libya's Western Mountains region as Gaddafi loyalists and rebels backed by NATO bombing reached stalemate on other fronts in the civil war.

Government forces surrounding rebel-held Zintan fired 300 rockets into the town on Saturday, rebel spokesman Abdulrahman al-Zintani said. He gave no details of casualties in Zintan, which is largely empty of civilians.

"NATO aircraft can be heard but there have been no air strikes," al-Zintani told Reuters.

The Tunisian town of Dehiba has been hit repeatedly by stray shells in recent weeks, and on Saturday Tunisia condemned the "extremely
dangerous" shelling and said it would take all necessary measures to protect its sovereignty.

The Libyan government denied targeting Tunisian soil deliberately.

"We said this [shelling] was an error and we have apologized that this took place and have asked the military forces to ensure this doesn't
happen again," Libyan Prime Minister Al-Baghdadi Ali al-Mahmoudi told a news conference in Tripoli.

The battle is over the Dehiba-Wazzin border crossing, whose control gives the rebels a road from the outside world into strongholds in the Western Mountains region. Gaddafi's forces control a far bigger crossing to the north.

On Saturday, Dehiba's schools were evacuated and residents scurried for safety as nearly 100 mortars and missiles fell. The crackle of small arms fire and larger weapons could be heard about 4 km inside Libya, a Reuters witness on the border said.

"We are very afraid. The missiles are falling right around us, we don't know what to do," said Tunisian Mohammed Naguez, a resident of Dehiba. "Our children are afraid. The Tunisian authorities have to stop this."

Most Western Mountains residents belong to the Berber ethnic group and are distinct from other Libyans. They rose up two months ago and say towns like Zintan and Yafran, often bombarded by Gadhafi's forces, are short of food, water and medicine.

The civil war over Gaddafi's rule has split the oil-producing desert state into a government-held western area round the capital Tripoli
and an eastern region held by ill-disciplined but dedicated rebel forces.

The revolt is the bloodiest yet against long-entrenched rulers across the Middle East and North Africa, which saw the overthrow of the
veteran presidents of Tunisia and Egypt.

Gaddafi forces attack remote oil town: rebels

Sat, May 7 2011

BENGHAZI, Libya (Reuters) - Forces loyal to Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi attacked the remote eastern oil town of Jalu in the Libyan
desert on Saturday, but the town remains in rebel hands, a rebel spokesman said.

The town, south of the eastern frontline near Adjdabiyah, has been attacked by Gaddafi forces more than once since the uprising against Muammar Gaddafi's rule began in mid-February.

With fighting on the eastern frontline stalled along the coast, rebels have said they suspect Gaddafi's forces are trying to hem in the
rebel-held east by moving south through the desert all the way up to Tobruk near the Egyptian border.

"From time to time, he has attacked using armoured vehicles and today he repeated the same thing and attacked Jalu," the rebel National Council spokesman Abdel Hafiz Ghoga told a news conference.

"But he can never keep forces there because these oases are liberated...Jalu remains defiant."

Gaddafi forces in the past have also attacked the nearby town of Awjilah, rebels say. Both are near major oilfields held by rebels.
Fighting has also broken out in the past in Kufra, a remote desert town in southeastern Libya.

(Reporting by Deepa Babington in Benghazi)

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