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Libya: Gaddafi's forces take over rebel-held city

Last updated on: March 9, 2011 18:42 IST

Libya: Gaddafi's forces take over rebel-held city

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Tanks of Muammar Gaddafi's forces on Wednesday broke into the embattled western Libyan city of Zawiyah while his fighters pounded the oil port of Ras Lanuf.

The tanks rolled into Zawiyah after days of pitched battle between the loyalists and rebels that has reduced large parts of the town to rubbles with unclaimed bodies strewn all over, Al Jazeera reported.


Image: Libya's leader Muammar Gaddafi at a hotel in Tripoli
Photographs: Ahmed Jadallah/Reuters
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No-fly zone over Libya?

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Meanwhile, United States President Barack Obama and British Prime Minister David Cameron discussed a possible no-fly zone over Libya but both countries maintained that any intervention must have wide international support.

But US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton made it clear that "any decision to impose a no-fly zone over Libya should be made by the United Nations and not by US."


Image: A boy attends a protest against Muammar Gaddafi in Benghazi
Photographs: Suhaib Salem/Reuters
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Gaddafi warns West

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As the possibility of international intervention grew, Libyan strongman Gaddafi warned that his people would take up arms if such a zone is imposed by the western nations or the UN.


Image: Evacuees line up for food distribution at an UNHCR refugee camp near the border crossing of Ras Jdir after fleeing violence in Libya
Photographs: Yannis Behrakis/Reuters
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Gaddafi appeals to the people

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Unfazed by an ultimatum served on him by the rebels to step down within 72 hours, Gaddafi, in his interview to Turkish TV, said a no-fly zone would show the true intention of the Americans and their European allies to "colonise Libya and seize its oil wealth".

Gaddafi, 68, also appealed to the people in the east, who have shunned him, to rise and topple the members of the newly-formed rebel Libyan National Council.


Image: An anti-Gaddafi rebel fires an anti-aircraft gun
Photographs: Asmaa Waguih/Reuters
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Gaddafi fears invasion by West

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Al Jazeera reported that Gaddafi had not deployed a major portion of his elite army regiments and was holding them to confront a feared western invasion.

His comments came amid reports that rebels had served him an ultimatum to step down within 72 hours.


Image: Injured rebels are helped out of a car during a battle along the road between Ras Lanuf and Bin Jiwad
Photographs: Goran Tomasevic/Reuters
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Reprieve for Gaddafi?

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"If he leaves Libya immediately, during 72 hours, and stops the bombardment, we as Libyans will step back from punishing him for his crimes," Mustafa Abdel Jalil, head of the opposition National Council, told Al Jazeera.


Image: The missile cruiser USS Leyte Gulf pulls alongside the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise while conducting flight operations in the Red Sea
Photographs: Reuters
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Gaddafi wants to step down?

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"Conditions are that firstly he stops all combat in the fields, secondly that his departure is within 72 hours; thirdly we may waive our right of domestic prosecution ... for the crimes of oppression, persecution, starvation and massacres," Jalil said.

The offer came as reports said Gaddafi had sent feelers to the opposition movement, expressing willingness to negotiate his exit.


Image: An F/A-18F Super Hornet launches during flight operations aboard the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise in the Red Sea
Photographs: Reuters
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Gaddafi's forces take over rebel-held city

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Unconfirmed reports indicated that Gaddafi, who has been in power for 41 years, was willing to step down. But he wanted war crime charges against him dropped and a guaranteed safe exit for his family.

The reports also said the Libyan dictator was looking for a place to live in exile. However, the state television rubbished these reports. An official from the Libyan foreign ministry described the reports as 'absolute nonsense'.


Image: Smoke is seen after an airstrike near the eastern city of Ras Lanuf
Photographs: Asmaa Waguih/Reuters
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Over 1,000 people killed in Libya protests

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In London, in an interview to Sky News, Clinton renewed her government's call for Gaddafi to step down peacefully.

According to UN estimates, over 1,000 people have been killed since Libya's uprising began on February 14.


Image: An anti-Gaddafi rebel prays and chants along a road
Photographs: Asmaa Waguih/Reuters
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Thousands flee Libya

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More than 200,000 people have fled the country, most of them foreign workers. The exodus is creating a humanitarian crisis across the border with Tunisia.


Image: Anti-Gaddafi rebels rush towards a house hit by an air strike in Ras Lanuf
Photographs: Asmaa Waguih/Reuters
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