Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Qaddafi Forces Near Benghazi as Rebel Commander Says World `Has Failed Us'

Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi set his sights on Benghazi as government forces fought rebels for control of the cities of Ajdabiya and Misrata and prospects faded for an internationally imposed no-fly zone.

Libya’s state-run television appealed to residents of Benghazi, the center of the rebellion in the east of the country, to join Qaddafi’s troops. The army “is coming to secure you and to lift the injustice and horror off you and to protect your pure souls and precious blood,” said the broadcast, which has been airing since yesterday.

Pro-Qaddafi forces attacked Ajdabiya, a city 100 miles (160 kilometres) from the rebel capital, using airstrikes and artillery late yesterday, Ahmed Omar, a military spokesman for the opposition, said today by telephone. Misrata, the largest rebel stronghold in western Libya, was shelled by government tanks from three directions early today, Reda Almountasser, a resident, said by phone.

Libya’s crude oil exports may be halted for “many months” because of damage to facilities and international sanctions, the International Energy Agency said yesterday. Daily supply from Africa’s third-largest producer has dropped to a “trickle” by this week from 1.58 million barrels in January, the Paris-based agency said in its monthly Oil Market Report. (read more)