Forces loyal to Moammar Gaddafi are making an aggressive eastward advance into Brega, Libya, where there are battling back undermanned rebel forces for control of the key coastal city.
Brega is highly prized due to its oil facilities. Government troops have already recaptured the towns of Ras Lanuf and Es Sider, west of Brega. Should Gaddafi’s army successfully take Brega, their next target on this eastern move would be Zueitina, east of Brega, which is currently in the hands of rebels.
The rebel capital remains Benghazi in the east, still hundreds of kilometers away from Gaddafi’s military.
Misrata, in the west, is also reportedly under heavy assault from Gaddafi’s men. It has thus far served as the rebel’s only stronghold in the western part of the country,
A rebel spokesman in Misrata said that Gaddafi’s shelling has killed dozens of civilians.
Massacres are taking place in Misrata, the spokesman told Reuters by telephone.
Artillery bombardment resumed this morning and is still going on. The [pro-Gaddafi] brigades could not enter the town but they are surrounding it. Twenty civilians were killed yesterday after their houses were hit by bombardments. Many people were wounded.
There are now grave concerns about the ability of rebel soldiers to resist the aggressive advances of pro-government forces, even with periodic air strikes by Western coalition fighter jets.
Separately, NATO said it is concerned about reports that Libyan civilians have died as a result of air raids by western coalition air strikes.
An official of the Vatican official told Reuters that at least 40 civilians were killed in air strikes over the Libyan capitol of Tripoli.
It is a news report and I appreciate the source of this report but it is worth noting that I take every one of those issues seriously, said Lieutenant-general Charles Bouchard, the Canadian commander of the coalition's military operations over Libya.
We are very careful in the prosecution of any of the possible targets that we have. We have very strict rules of engagement provided to us and we are operating within the legal mandate of our United Nations mandate.
In addition, despite rumors that Gaddafi is seeking to exit Libya and move into exile, a government spokesman Moussa Ibrahim said the country’s leader and his family will remain in Libya until the end to lead it to victory against its enemies.
Rest assured, we are all here. We will remain here until the end. This is our country. We are strong on every front,” he said.
We are not relying on individuals to lead the struggle. This is a struggle of the whole nation. It's not dependent on individuals or officials.
The spokesman also indicated that the foreign air strikes had united the Libyan leadership.
If this aggression did anything, it only rallied people around the leader and the unity of the nation, he said. Especially now. They see a clear enemy.