Jewish World Review March 8, 2011 / 2 Adar II, 5771
With Obama still deciding on military options, pro-Gadhafi forces appear to take the initiative
By Nancy A. Youssef and Warren P. Strobel
AS LANOUF, Libya (MCT) As the U.S. and
In the western city of Zawiya, government forces, backed by as many as 50 tanks, inflicted heavy damage and killed dozens of rebel fighters and civilians, a resident said, seizing at least partial control of a city that had been in rebel hands.
But developments raised the question of whether outside help, if it comes, would come too late.
In Benghazi, the de facto capital of the rebel-held east, Libyans' frustrations with
The U.S. position is baffling, they said.
"We can't determine if it is a negative or positive attitude from
But Daalder said discussions of a no-fly zone are still in the preliminary stage, and he questioned whether enforcing one would change the military situation on the ground.
"The overall air activity has not been the deciding factor in the ongoing unrest," he said, noting that Libyan jet fighter activity actually decreased over the weekend after peaking at the end of last week.
A no-fly zone also faces diplomatic obstacles. Daalder and other U.S. officials said Monday that the step would almost certainly require authorization from the
Obama renewed a warning that Gadhafi's associates would be held accountable "for whatever violence continues to take place." But the warning appeared to have negligible immediate impact.
A resident of Zawiya, reached by phone, painted a grim picture of what was taking place in the city, 30 miles west of Tripoli. Regime troops, he said, were "attacking the people, destroying everything, killing civilians, everything."
The resident, who can't be named for safety reasons, estimated that 60 rebel fighters and an unknown number of Gadhafi loyalists had been killed.
"The people, they have nothing. They're just trying to fight (with) hunting guns, something like that. We don't have heavy guns," he said. "They are now exploding the gas stations, a lot of houses have been destroyed today. ... Nobody is standing with us now."
In Ras Lanouf, panic set in about Gadhafi's next move within hours of the rebels' first loss at Bin Jawwad, which Gadhafi forces took Sunday. At around
As young men scrambled over stucco walls with assault rifles slung over their backs, streams of cars with the few remaining women and children headed for the main highway.
They converged at the first service station to fill up.
"The forces are coming from Sirte," he said confidently, though he couldn't say how he knew.
But the feared attack never came. On Monday, Libyan aircraft bombed Ras Lanouf, and some rebel fighters girded for battle.
Tomorrow, they said, Gadhafi forces would strike.
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