The units of Libyan rebels have claimed the capture of the Jamahiriya leader’s home city Sirte, to advance further westwards to Tripoli from there. This comes in a report by the Al Jazeera TV channel with reference to rebel sources.
The coalition force brought Sirte under heavy bombardment on Sunday night, causing the Libyan Army to withdraw from the city.
A convoy of 20 army trucks arrived in Tripoli last night together with dozens of private cars, full of personal belongings.
The civilian population left the city together with the Libyan military. The rebels are reported to have captured Ajdabiyah, El Ukaila, Ras Lanuf, Ben Jawad, and Marsa El Brega in the past 24 hours.
NATO assumed yesterday the coalition force’s command of the operation against the Muammar Gaddafi regime.
NATO will not side with rebels in Libya
NATO is not going to side with the opposition rebels, diplomatic sources say, insisting that NATO will restrict itself to protecting civilians from attacks of Muammar Gaddafi’s regime.
This was reported following the announcement of NATO officially taking over command of the allied operation in Libya. The latter decision was taken at a meeting of member countries on Sunday evening.
According to the UN Security Council resolution of March 17th, the international coalition can use “all necessary measures to protect civilians in Libya.”
On March 19th the allied air forces of the USA, Britain, France and several other nations launched a military operation “Odyssey Dawn”, aimed at ensuring a no-fly zone over Libya and an arms embargo.
Libya: rebels advance, as coalition deals fresh air strikes
The international coalition forces on Sunday evening dealt new air strikes on the Libyan capital and Muammar Gaddafi’s stronghold of Sirte. According to witnesses, some ten powerful explosions were heard in these cities and their environs.
Earlier it was reported that French aircraft had destroyed armored vehicles and a weapons cache of the Libyan army to the east of Tripoli. Recent days were keynoted by fierce fighting in the north and east of the country between rebels and government forces in key oil towns. The western coalition is providing support to the rebels’ advance.
The conflict in Libya began in mid-February. Mass protests against the regime of Muammar Gaddafi spiraled into armed confrontation, which, according to human rights organizations, has claimed thousands of innocent lives.
On March 17 the UN Security Council adopted a resolution imposing no-fly zones over Libya. It thus sanctioned an international military operation against the army loyal to Gaddafi.
On Sunday night, NATO officially took over command of “Odyssey Dawn” operation in Libya.
Italy, Germany to table Libya plan
Gaddafi and clan must fly out, the Libyan sides must cease fire, and international aid agencies must be allowed unimpeded safe access to Libya.
These are parts of a settlement plan to be unveiled by Italy and Germany at a meeting of the anti-Gaddafi coalition in London on Tuesday.
The announcement is from the Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini. He says the African Union is offering Muammar Gaddafi safe conduct out of Libya.
UK won’t arm Libyan rebels
The British Defence Secretary Liam Fox has denied plans to arm the Libyan opponents of Muammar Gaddafi.
In an interview for the BBC on Sunday, he said that Great Britain sticks to the United Nations arms embargo against Libya and contributes to international efforts to protect the civilian population of that North African country .
Mr. Fox also said that the command of Libya campaign is going to be assumed by NATO.