Saturday, March 26, 2011

Libyan rebels take Ajdabiya

Libyan opposition rebels have taken the strategic eastern city of Ajdabiya from government control, Al Jazeera's correspondent there reported.

"There is no doubt about it, you can probably hear some of the celebrations behind me, Ajdabiya is in opposition hands," Al Jazeera's James Bays said from the city on Saturday.

"Gaddafi forces have been controlling the ring road that goes around Ajdabiya ... that has been the situation for six days, but they have now been cleared from that position."

"The opposition forces tell me their may be some pro-Gaddafi forces hiding, snipers possibly on buildings, they are telling us to take care," Bays said, but he added that Ajdabiya was "firmly back under the control of opposition fighters".

Rebel fighters were now reportedly on their way to the key oil port town of Brega, Bays said.

"The road is open beyond Ajdabiya, and [the rebels] are heading, streaming along that road ... they are on the road and they are moving forward."

Earlier on Saturday, rebels reported having entered Ajdabiya in a bid to wrestle control of the strategic area.

Many fighters belonging to forces loyal to Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi were held hostage after fierce fighting on Friday, rebels said.

Pro-Gaddafi forces are now mainly positioned in the west of the city, having previously held the entire city, they said.

On Friday, western warplanes bombed Gaddafi's tanks and artillery outside the town to try to break a battlefield stalemate and help rebels retake the strategic area.


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