Libya rebels say they are in Zliten centre

BENGHAZI, Libya — Libyan rebels said they launched an offensive Friday against Zliten and after a fight lasting just hours were in the centre of the disputed town 150 kilometres (93 miles) east of Tripoli.

By (AFP)

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Published: Fri 19 Aug 2011, 7:05 PM

Last updated: Mon 6 Apr 2015, 8:28 PM

The offensive against Muammar Gaddafi’s forces was launched around 7:30 am (0530 GMT) and “at 1:00 pm our information indicates that the rebel troops entered the city centre,” the Information Centre For Misrata Military Council said in a statement.

“The battle began with an artillery bombardment on the positions of Kadhafi’s forces, followed by a swift movement forward by rebels,” the statement said.

“Kadhafi forces have used tanks to try unsuccessfully to repel the rebels. There are dead and injured rebels,” it added. A total of “1,230 rebel fighters took part in the attack.”

Earlier, the insurgents reported to have pushed forward and seized positions “in the areas of Bazh, Gananat, the Ahamada and around Zliten hotel.”

They also said they had advanced “to the south of Zliten” in an area called Sir Leslie, forcing Kadhafi loyalists to pull back.

“Between 40 and 50 Kadhafi forces were killed” in the fighting, while some 12 African mercenaries were captured, the statement said, adding that 40 insurgents were wounded, 10 of them seriously.

A number of families from Misrata, caught in Zliten and unable to leave, were freed by the rebels, the statement said. “We are trying to return them to Misrata as soon as we can.”

Rebels claimed they seized seven military vehicles, as well as weapons and ammunition.

There was no independent confirmation of the report, which came hours after the Misrata Military Council spoke of a popular “uprising” in the centre of Zliten against Gaddafi’s regime.

The rebels, who have been steadily advancing westwards from their enclave in Misrata, have been trying since early August to seize full control of Zliten, a strategic coastal town on the road to Tripoli.

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