Belfast Telegraph

Friday 28 November 2014

Nato targets Libyan oil terminal

Mourners pray during the funeral for nine of 11 clerics allegedly killed in a Nato airstrike in Tripoli, Libya (AP)
Mourners pray during the funeral for nine of 11 clerics allegedly killed in a Nato airstrike in Tripoli, Libya (AP)

Nato aircraft have blasted an oil terminal in a key eastern city after Britain urged the alliance to widen its assault on areas controlled by ruler Muammar Gaddafi.

A Libya TV report said the bombs hit methanol tanks at the oil port of Ras Lanouf, causing leaks.

The reported attack came as the Libyan conflict appeared largely stalemated, with each side claiming gains one day, only to be turned back the next.

Libyan rebels said they have taken full control of the western port city of Misrata, 125 miles from Tripoli, the only major city in western Libya with a significant rebel toehold. The rebel claim could not be confirmed.

In Misrata, rebel fighter Abdel Salam described the situation in Misrata as static. "The situation is almost frozen, as the rebels are in full control over Misrata," he said. "The rebels are not engaged in any major fighting fronts with Gaddafi forces."

The two sides have been battling intensively over Misrata, symbolic because of its location near Gaddafi's capital. His forces shelled the city heavily and at some points took up positions inside Misrata neighbourhoods to fire at civilians and fighters, while avoiding Nato airstrikes. Rebels and residents say Gaddafi forces remain at the edges of the town.

More than 1,000 people have died in Misrata in the fighting and shelling.

Salam denied earlier reports suggesting that that rebels were advancing toward the western city of Zlitan, which would be the next step on the road to Tripoli. "The rebels agreed that it is better not to move forward or open new fronts," he said.

He added, "It will be a big risk to advance. Anything could happen and cost us heavy causalities. This is not the right decision to take right now."

Meanwhile, International Criminal Court prosecutors are putting the final touches to their case against three Libyan leaders on charges of murder and persecution in the brutal crackdown on anti-government rebels. Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo will file a 74-page document with nine annexes outlining the allegations and seeking arrest warrants for the three Libyan leaders considered most responsible for the atrocities. Moreno-Ocampo has not disclosed the names of the three, but Gaddafi is widely expected to be among them.

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