Gaddafi loyalists go on offensive, rebels pushed back

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Libyan leader Colonel Muammar Gaddafi
Image: U.S. Navy.

Troops loyal to Libyan leader Colonel Muammar Gaddafi launched an offensive Tuesday and managed to push rebel forces out of the town of Bin Jawad. This comes as world powers met the same day to discuss the future of the country.

Rebels disclosed that their troops in Bin Jawad came under heavy artillery and rocket fire, after which they made a hasty retreat. Rebels who were still in the open desert sought cover and fired at Gaddafi troops as they appeared. One rebel warrior said that the shelling was too much for them to handle, A rebel fighter, Ashraf Mohammed, was quoted by Reuters as saying, "[t]he Gaddafi guys hit us with Grads [rockets] and they came round our flanks."

Rebel forces retreated to the city of Ras Lanuf, which they had captured days before on Sunday, where they recuperated. However, they were not completely safe there as they came under heavy gunfire at the western fringe of town and had to defend themselves with any weapons that they could find.

Civilians also retreated from the war zone. One man criticized rebel troops, telling them to "[g]et yourselves up there and stop posing for pictures."

Today's battle marked a shift of momentum in favour of government troops; earlier this week rebels held the advantage over pro-Gaddafi forces as they made their westward march with little to no resistance.