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Neon Tommy - Annenberg digital news

Battle For Libya Continues In Misrata

Callie Schweitzer |
April 24, 2011 | 1:07 p.m. PDT


(Creative Commons)
(Creative Commons)

Opposition forces in Libya declared Misrata "free" of Muammar Gaddafi supporters on Saturday, but Libya's third-largest city "saw one of its deadliest days in almost two months" on Sunday.

Despite claims that governmental forces would be leaving the city, it appears they have not. Heavy fighting continued Saturday and Sunday with doctors reporting at least 25 people dead and 71 others critically injured.

Al Jazeera English reports:

Libyan Deputy Foreign Minister Khaled Kaim said early on Sunday the army had suspended operations against rebels in Misurata, but not left the city, to enable local tribes to find a peaceful solution.

"The armed forces have not withdrawn from Misurata. They have simply suspended their operations," Kaim told a news conference in the capital.

If the rebels don't surrender in the next two days, armed tribesmen will fight them in place of the army, he said.

Residents, however, reported heavy fighting, shelling and explosions in the east and south of Misurata on Saturday, and doctors said the day was one of the bloodiest in weeks.

The AP reports that Gaddafi supporters "unleashed a barrage of shells and rockets at Misrata" over the weekend killing 32 and wounding dozens.

One physician told AFP news agency that the death toll from Saturday was double that of a "normal" fighting day.

Following an "ultimatum" from local tribes, Kaim said Gaddafi loyalists had agreed to leave the city.

"Misurata is free, the rebels have won. Of Gaddafi's forces, some are killed and others are running away," A pro-democracy spokesman told Reuters.

Now, however, many are skeptical that the withdraw is a "trick."

Misrata "has become the focal point of Libya's armed rebellion against Gaddafi since fighting elsewhere is deadlocked," and there appears to be no end in sight.

Speaking from Cairo on CNN's "State of the Union" on Sunday, Sen. John McCain warned that the crisis in Libya was heading toward a "stalemate."

McCain, who visited Libya last week, said opposition forces were "badly outgunned in armor, in equipment, in training" compared to Gaddafi forces.



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