Qaddafi Bombards Rebel Cities, Defies UNO

The government of Muammar Qaddafi is making a wideranging attempt to dominate as much of the country as possible before Western powers begin patrolling Libya’s skies with fighter jets, probably on Saturday night or Sunday.

Aljazeera Arabic is reporting mid-morning Saturday Libyan time that hundreds of people have been wounded in Benghazi by the heavy bombardment to which Qaddafi forces have subjected the rebel center. Government troops are said to have entered the environs of the city and put some rebel forces to flight. Residents are shown alleging that Qaddafi’s forces are continuously bombarding Ajdabiya and Benghazi with indiscriminate tank and heavy artillery fire, hitting civilian apartment buildings and killing and wounding women and children in them. There is heavy fighting at Magrun just to the south of Benghazi, according to Aljazeera’s English web site.

The pan-Arab London daily, Al-Sharq al-Awsat [The Middle East] reports that rebel sources say that the Qaddafi regime continues to mount heavy attacks on the city of Misrata, about 140 miles east of the capital, Tripoli, producing an ever increasing toll of dead and wounded. On Friday, Qaddafi’s forces allegedly killed 4 persons and wounded 70 in the course of tank and artillery bombardments of the city. The rebels rejected an offer of amnesty from the Qaddafi forces if only they would lay down their arms.

Aljazeera English has video of fighting at Misrata:

Al-Sharq al-Awsat says that Qaddafi’s brigades in Misrata attempted to separate the western suburbs of the city from the rest of it, after deploying in large numbers on the coastal road. The rebels say that they laid several successful ambushes and were able to frustrate the Qaddafi forces’ attempt to push forward, as well as to inflict substantial casualties on them. They claim to have captured 20 loyalist fighters. The independent site “Libya Jil” said it had confirmed reports of Qaddafi forces turning tail and fleeing after the rebels stopped them at the western entrance to Misrata and inflicted on them numerous casualties. Some of the Qaddafi loyalists were being mopped up by the rebels, especially in al-Qushi, where they had surrounded them. The rebels lost 4 dead in the engagement. On Friday night the rebels fought off another attack.

Other Libyan sources, including the independent Libyan Information Center, said that there were fierce battles around Ajdabiya to the south of rebel HQ Benghazi. There, rebels said they stopped an attack led by Khamis Qaddafi, a son of the dictator, and forced the remnants of his brigade to flee to the south after they were surrounded in eastern Ajdabiya. The sources say that as the Qaddafi forces retreated, they subjected the city to indiscriminate fire, as well as targeting infrastructural targets such as electricity and water plants.

Ibrahim Umaish of the Political Circle in the oppositionist National Libyan Coalition said that Qaddafi deployed tanks and land units against cities on a vast scale. Fighting broke out again in the western suburbs of Tripoli, as well as in the town of Yifrin in the Western Mountain region southwest of the capital and in Nalut on the Tunisian border. The rebels claim to have inflicted casualties on the troops that launched this campaign. The rebels in Nalut assert that they fought off the pro-Qaddafi attackers.

The protesters in west Tripoli may have come out as part of a strategy of testing Qaddafi’s compliance with the UNSC demand he allow peaceful protest. Rebels think that if he puts down the demonstrations, he’ll demonstrate his non-compliance, whereas if he allows them, he will be shown to be generally unpopular.

The widespread attacks by Qaddafi forces came despite the UN Security Council cease-fire resolution and the Tripoli government announcement that it would abide by it.

The western tribal city of Zintan was also allegedly the site of battles on Friday into Saturday morning.

Aljazeera English reports on how the proposed no-fly zone authorized by the UNSC might work:

But more of the country may fall to Qaddafi’s fierce attacks if the UN-sanctioned aerial patrols do not begin soon.

Posted in Libya | 10 Responses | Print |

10 Responses

  1. The comments section is closed to anguished cries of hypocrisy over the UNO no-fly zone over Libya, when similar measures have not been taken elsewhere. The hypocrisy is hereby stipulated. Please move along to actual analysis. Likewise, mere emotive denunciations of Western intervention are not very interesting after a while. Again, analysis of unfolding dynamics or some information not widely available on the front page of is sought. Denials of Qaddafi’s massacres will be rejected as trolling (I’m looking at you, Saif al-Islam.) Please read the comment rules on the left of the main site and conform to them.

  2. Stipulated hypocrisy aside, it appears as though the United Nations now commits America to yet another war without the Congress of the United States having the first thing to say about it. I can still fondly remember how President (and former General) Eisenhower used to respond when self-interested factions tried to stampede him into acting rashly, against his better judgment:

    “Don’t just do something. Stand there!”

    Buffaloed Boy Obama has once again let the chicken-hawk chorus stampede him into “just doing something.” Exactly what, when, where, how, and why remain — naturally — a complete mystery to the American people.

    But let us by all means “just do something.’ I mean, after all, America has had such a smashing record of success to date, blundering into one nationalist, sectarian, or tribal vendetta after another over the past half-century. Why stop to think and let others fight their own battles for their own reasons?

    • The United Nations did not commit the US to anything Michael. The US could have abstained like China, Russia, India, Brazil (BRIC) & Germany or it could have used its veto.

      If the US had abstained then its quite likely that one or both South Africa & Nigeria would have done likewise; then the resolution would have been voted down, or more likely not have put to the vote.

  3. .
    For anyone scratching their heads over what appear to be fairly light casualties,
    victory in combat is only rarely correlated with massive casualties. See, for example, the etymology of “decimate.”
    Historically, the highest numbers of casualties are inflicted after the cessation of hostilities, when prisoners are massacred.

    What turns the tide in battle, most often, is the perception by the grunts on one side that they are taking large losses. Wounding 1 soldier can take 4 more out of the fight. Veiled by the fog of war, they can’t really know what’s happening to their left or to their right. If they turn and run, based on those perceptions, the adversary can exploit that and roll up the flanks left unguarded.

    I presume actual numbers are much higher, but if not, this is a reflection of the low level of commitment of the loyalists and Mercenaries.

  4. Surely you will not consider this as a “trolling” comment but a constructive analysis of what this resolution means.

    My understanding is with this resolution more than with the previous ones we are entering in uncharted territory as it seems that the 1975 Helsinki Accords (signed by the same states who seeked and voted the recent UN resolution) are definitely dead.

    Here are the 10 points of the declaration also known as decalogue

    1. Sovereign equality, respect for the rights inherent in sovereignty
    2. Refraining from the threat or use of force
    3. Inviolability of frontiers
    4. Territorial integrity of States
    5. Peaceful settlement of disputes
    6. Non-intervention in internal affairs
    7. Respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, including the freedom of thought, conscience, religion or belief
    8. Equal rights and self-determination of peoples
    9. Co-operation among States
    10. Fulfillment in good faith of obligations under international law

    • The UNO Convention on the prevention of Genocide has already brought into question claims of absolute sovereignty.

  5. Perhaps the most important part of this situation is the unmasking of the Official Suit’s double-talk as ordinary people on the ground are able to document what’s actually happening on the ground and make it known via the internet on sites like this.

  6. When we’ve had no-fly zones before they defined distinct ethnic enclaves. But fighting may be continuing all across Libya. Is it logical to try to suppress Gaddafi’s entire air force instead of a more focused effort to rescue the people of Benghazi? If such suppression is carried out, will the fighting in Misrata be affected? Will foreign air forces fire on the strung-out tank columns that are Gaddafi’s only means of enforcing control of his country?

    By the way, last night CCTV’s English-language news service claimed that the Egyptian Army is now sending arms to the rebels. While Gaddafi seems to be using equipment little different than when he got beat by Chad (!), America has poured billions of dollars’ worth of toys into Egypt’s army. A few of those toys, thrown against Gaddafi’s elite units, 500 miles from their bases and straining on their supply lines, could have a dramatic effect.

  7. Things just might work out well here…
    Gaddafi fails to make good on his threat to chase down and kill his opponents in their closets. The remaining rebel cities aren’t levelled (like Zawiya). Gaddafi’s vehicles get destroyed and /or their commanders desert. As his forces retreat, new uprisings break out against him. The Benghazi rebels close in on Tripoli and finish him off. The new regime is established under the watchful eyes of the world community, ensuring it operates in a democratic fashion and inhibiting it from launching vicious reprisals against the old guard and their supporters.
    Some readers may find this implausibly optimistic. But what is even more likely is that the regime will kill and torture multitudes if NATO remains aloof.

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