Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 22 November 2014

Rebels regain control of key city

Libyan rebels have regained control of the eastern gateway city of Ajdabiya after international airstrikes (AP)
Libyan rebels have regained control of the eastern gateway city of Ajdabiya after international airstrikes (AP)
The scene during Friday prayers in the main square in Benghazi, eastern Libya (AP)
Women gather in Tripoli at a mass funeral for people allegedly killed in coalition bombings on Libya (AP)

Libyan rebels have regained control of the eastern gateway city of Ajdabiya after international airstrikes on Muammar Gaddafi's forces.

Saif Sadawi, a 20-year-old rebel fighter, said the city's eastern gate fell late on Friday and the western gate fell at dawn on Saturday after airstrikes on both locations.

"All of Ajdabiya is free," he said.

People are driving through streets, honking car horns in celebration in the city, which has been under siege for over a week.

Ajdabiya's sudden fall to Gaddafi's troops spurred the swift UN resolution authorising international action in Libya, and its return to rebel hands came after a week of airstrikes and missiles against the Libyan leader's military.

On the road into the city, at least eight blackened Gaddafi tanks lay on the ground.

The UN Security Council authorised the operation to protect Libyan civilians after Gaddafi launched attacks against anti-government protesters who demanded that he step down after 42 years in power.

The airstrikes have sapped the strength of Gaddafi's forces, but rebel advances have also foundered, and the two sides have been at stalemate in key cities.

Meanwhile, US President Barack Obama defended the country's intervention.

Her said: "The United States should not and cannot intervene every time there's a crisis somewhere in the world." But with Gaddafi threatening "a bloodbath that could destabilise an entire region... it's in our national interest to act. And it's our responsibility. This is one of those times".

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