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Thursday, 7 April 2011

Libya another Afghanistan

Libya — Stung by criticism from rebel leaders, NATO
officials said Wednesday that the pace of attacks on the forces of Col. Muammar
el-Qaddafi was increasing, after a slight slowdown as the coalition handed off
responsibility earlier in the week.

Multimedia 1 of 6, so much for NATO’s,,,, it will be all
over in a couple of weeks or so? Another Afghanistan maybe 10 years on Northern
Ireland 1968-2011 still on going 43 years later?

The Libyan Rebellion Interactive map of the major clashes in
Libya, day by day.

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The Lede Blog: Text of New Qaddafi Letter to Obama (April 6,

Gen. Abdul Fattah Younes, the head of the rebel army, had
lashed out at his Western allies during a news conference in Benghazi on
Tuesday, accusing NATO of tardiness and indecision. “What is NATO doing?” he
asked. “Civilians are dying every day. They use the excuse of collateral

He charged that NATO was enforcing the United
Nations-sanctioned no-fly zone too equally, barring the rebels from providing
cover for their troops with the few warplanes he said they had repaired. “They
said, ‘No, don’t use your planes,’ ” he said.

A spokeswoman for NATO, Carmen Romero, said the alliance had
flown 137 sorties on Monday and 186 on Tuesday and that it planned to fly 198
on Wednesday, The Associated Press reported.

Rebels said the Qaddafi forces appeared to have adopted new
tactics in response to the Western airstrikes, using mortars far more than
tanks, either to present smaller targets or because the tanks were wiped out.
“They are changing the technique and they are shelling by mortar now
everywhere, so instead of no-fly zone we have no safe zone,” said Aiman, a
doctor in the besieged city of Misurata who gave only his first name for safety
reasons, in an Internet message.

The French foreign minister, Alain Juppé, echoed that,
telling French radio that NATO was in danger of becoming “bogged down” because
the Qaddafi forces were moving into residential areas, making it difficult for
Western pilots to hit their targets without killing civilians, Reuters

In the rebel-held city of Misurata in western Libya and on
the eastern front with the rebels around the oil town of Brega, Qaddafi forces
continued to hammer rebels with rockets, artillery and mortars, as rebel
leaders expressed exasperation at the limits of NATO’s support.

The rebels in the east played cat and mouse on Wednesday
with the superior Qaddafi forces entrenched in Brega, advancing a few miles
from their position about 15 miles outside the city, firing rockets and then
rushing back to avoid the highly accurate artillery fire that inevitably ensues.
In contrast to Tuesday, when the skies were largely empty, several airstrikes
were seen on Wednesday, a doctor with the rebels said. But the Qaddafi forces
were clearly in control of Brega, and there seemed little chance of dislodging
them without the heavy airstrikes that two weeks ago sent the loyalist forces
reeling toward the Qaddafi stronghold of Surt.

An American envoy, Chris Stevens, had a second day of
meetings with members of the Transitional National Council, the rebel
leadership group. The sessions were held behind closed doors, and the
participants have yet to speak publicly about the talks.

Obama administration officials have said recently that they
are leery of arming the rebel fighters until they have a better grasp of who,
exactly, their leaders are, both politically and militarily, and whether they
have any connections to radical Islam.

On Tuesday, the Qaddafi forces reversed some minor rebel
gains with rocket attacks and pushed vehicle patrols northeast from their
positions. They forced the rebels to withdraw nearly to Ajdabiya, to be safely
out of the superior range of the loyalist forces’ weapons.

Resting on dunes and knolls, soldiers peered down the road
toward Brega nervously. They said that it appeared that the Qaddafi forces, less
pressured now by airstrikes, had managed to resupply their forward troops and
that they were emboldened and dangerous.

The rebels had pulled back so quickly under fire that their
casualties on Tuesday were light, said Dr. Habib Multadi, who was organizing
the evacuation of wounded from the front. But as cargo trucks moved more
ammunition forward at dusk, their force seemed stuck.

In the rebel capital, Benghazi, a military spokesman said he
was not ashamed to admit that the rebel forces needed help.

“To your people I would like to say, ‘Don’t leave us,’ ” the
spokesman, Col. Ahmed Omar Bani, said in an interview. “We need support. We
need your support.”

In Misurata, rebels said they were losing ground to a
constricting siege by Qaddafi forces. “The Qaddafi forces are expanding their
territorial gains every day,” said Mohamed, a rebel spokesman whose name was
withheld to protect his family.

The Qaddafi forces had shelled the port so heavily, he said,
that the local authorities closed and evacuated it, sending a ship from
Benghazi back into deeper waters.

Writing from the hospital, he said three people were killed
Tuesday — including a 10-year-old child and a member of the hospital staff —
and a total of seven by the end of the day on Monday.

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