Fighting moves to Libya’s center, NATO accused of taking sides

Armed conflict between Gaddafi’s troops and Libyan rebels has moved away from the sea coast into the central part of the country. Meanwhile, Russia has said NATO’s actions contradict the UN resolution and called them interference in a civil war.

The opposition’s offensive was stopped 140 kilometers away from the city of Sirt, AFP reported. Thus, the claims of the Libyan rebels that they had captured the city have been disproved.

On Monday, state television reported coalition planes bombed the city of Sabha in central Libya at dawn, killing several civilians.

Meanwhile, Russia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs considered NATO’s approval of a “no-fly plus” plan and their consequent actions interference in a civil war in Libya.

NATO took the lead in the military operation in Libya, approving a so-called “no-fly plus” plan that will make the alliance responsible for protecting civilians as well as enforcing a no-fly zone and an arms embargo on Sunday.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov mentioned reports about the coalition’s air strikes on Gaddafi’s troops and reports about NATO’s support of the rebels’ offensive.

There is a clear contradiction here. We believe that interference of the coalition in the internal – as a matter of fact – civil war, has not been sanctioned by the UN Security Council resolution,” said Lavrov.

Lavrov stressed again that the sole aim of the resolution was implementation of a no-fly zone for the protection of the civilian population.

Rebels have been advancing in recent days as the no-fly zone established by the international forces seriously damaged Gaddafi’s air defenses and batteries.

On Sunday the rebels managed to regain control over the crucial oil towns of Rus-Lanouf, Marsa-el-Brega, and Ajdabiya.

According to AFP, Libyan rebels have promised to begin exporting oil “in less than a week” in areas under their control.

Opposition representatives said they produce about 100,000 to 130,000 barrels a day, however, they can increase that amount up to 300,000 a day.

They also announced the Libyan opposition has already signed an oil export agreement with Qatar, the only Arab country known to have actively participated in the military operation in Libya.

Qatar will be selling Libya’s oil on international markets, and the money will go to the opposition’s accounts.

Qatar also recognized the Libyan National Council as the sole legitimate representative of the Libyan people, according to Reuters.

With crucial oil ports being in the hands of the opposition, the main problem they face is lack of oil tankers that could transfer oil out of the country.

At the moment, with no oil being exported, Libya’s storage tanks are completely full, so there is no place to store new oil pumped from the ground.

From the beginning of the military action in Libya, oil production has decreased to three times normal. Oil exports were practically paralyzed as world banks refused to accept any payments for Libyan oil in US dollars due to international sanctions.

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