May 11th, 2011
05:45 PM ET

Libyan government, rebels both claim control of Misrata airport

Benghazi, Libya (CNN) - Spokesmen for the Libyan rebels sparred Wednesday with a spokesman for the Libyan government over who was in control of the airport in the besieged city of Misrata.

During the day, Shamsiddin Abdulmolah of the Transitional National Council said the airport, located in the southern part of the war-torn city, had fallen to "revolutionaries" after opposition fighters in nearby Zlaitin were able to join their counterparts in Misrata.

During the night, government spokesman Musa Ibrahim said government forces were in control of the airport and the seaport in Misrata. He said rebel forces had been there "for (a) short time, and left."

But a rebel spokesman in Misrata, who has asked to be identified solely as Mohamed, said late Wednesday night that the rebels had retained control of the airport and were also in control of a civil defense base beyond the airport.

The capture of the airport would be key for rebels fighting the forces of Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi since it would provide an important entry point for humanitarian aid.

Two months of fighting and the ongoing shelling of the Misrata port have prevented most aid ships from docking there, leaving the city "at the forefront" of U.N. humanitarian concerns, a top U.N. official told the Security Council this week.


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