Gaddafi’s troops routed in Libyan oil port battle

March 3rd, 2011 - 12:28 pm ICT by ANI  

Tripoli (Libya), Mar. 3 (ANI): Rebel forces have reportedly routed troops loyal to Libyan dictator Colonel Muammar Gaddafi in a fierce battle to establish control over the oil port of Brega.

According to a report in the Daily Express, the Libyan opposition continues to call for international air strikes to help them oust Gaddafi.

Wednesday’s attack on Brega, a strategic oil facility located 460 miles east of Gaddafi’s stronghold in Tripoli, illustrated the deep difficulties the Libyan leader’s armed forces - an array of militiamen, mercenaries and military units - have had in rolling back the uprising that has swept over eastern Libya since February 15.

In Tripoli, Gaddafi warned against intervention by the United States and other Western powers, vowing to turn Libya into “another Vietnam” and saying any foreign troops coming into his country “will be entering hell and they will drown in blood”.

At least 10 anti-Gaddafi fighters were killed and 18 wounded in the battle for Brega, Libya’s second- largest petroleum facility, which the opposition has held since last week.

Citizen militias flowed in from a nearby city and from the opposition stronghold of Benghazi hours away to reinforce the defence, finally repelling the regime loyalists.

The attack began just after dawn on Wednesday, when several hundred pro-Gaddafi forces in 50 trucks and 4×4s mounted with machine guns descended on the port, driving out a small opposition contingent and seizing control of the oil facilities, port and airstrip. But by afternoon, they had lost it all and had retreated to a university campus five miles away.

For the past week, pro-Gaddafi forces have been focusing on the west, securing Tripoli and trying to take back nearby rebel-held cities. But the regime has seemed to struggle to bring an overwhelming force to bear against cities largely defended by local residents using weapons looted from storehouses and backed by allied army units.

Pro-Gaddafi forces succeeded over the weekend in retaking two small towns. But the major western rebel-held cities of Zawiya and Misrata, near Tripoli, have repelled repeated, major attacks - including new forays against Zawiya yesterday.

In a speech to chanting and clapping supporters in Tripoli, Gaddafi vowed to fight on “until the last man and woman. We will defend Libya from the north to the south”.

He lashed out against Europe and the US for its pressure on him to step down, warning that “thousands of Libyans will die” if US and Nato forces intervened in the conflict. (ANI)

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