Rebels Making Big Advances Against Gaddafi
Libyan rebels are gaining ground against Muammar Gaddafi in the Libyan capital of Tripoli, and on Thursday five explosions shook the city, however, it remains uncertain if any casualties have resulted from the blasts, AP has reported.
The explosions follow significant developments in the past day in the fight against Gaddafi, including rebels taking control of a key oil refinery in Zawiyah that is just 40 kilometers to the west of Tripoli. According to the rebels, they have three-quarters of the refinery under control but Gaddafi forces are striking back in an attempt to regain control.
Analysts are arguing taking control of the oil refinery will be key to winning the war because it will “open the way” to Tripoli as it is linked to a highway that leads into the Libyan capital.
This is the most pressure the Libyan rebels have been able to put on the leader since the 6-month uprising against Gaddafi began last February.
Pentagon spokesman George Little has said that these “significant developments” have brought the 41-year Gaddafi regime to its last legs.
Little said, “The future does not look particularly bright for Gaddafi, but we’ll have to see where things go.”
NATO has also expressed the same sentiment.
The BBC reported that the group believed that Gaddafi forces are no longer able to launch “coherent operations.”
The rebels have a stronghold in eastern Libya and have established their own de facto government known as the National Transitional Council.
With the rebel advancement closing in on the capital, fears are growing in and around Tripoli of what the advancement might result in for city dwellers.
One baker has said, according to Euronews, “We’re encountering an air blockade and they are closing all of the country’s exits for us. The supplies we have will run out, we’re running out of everything.”
Meanwhile, the rebel Chief Mustafa Abdel Jalil said in a newspaper interview that he fears the rebel advancement into the capital will result in a "veritable bloodbath."
The rebels have been fighting to oust the Libyan leader since Gaddafi took office 41 years ago, however, with demonstrations and protests beginning this past February the rebel movement has significantly grown and gained more leverage in their move to topple Gaddafi.
The United States, France, and Great Britain have called on Gaddafi to step down and have already recognized the rebels as the “sole governmental authority” in Libya.