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June 8th, 2011
06:00 PM ET

Gadhafi loyalists launch new push against Misrata

(CNN) - Forces loyal to embattled Libyan strongman Moammar Gadhafi launched a new attack on the rebel-held city of Misrata on Wednesday, with anti-government forces reporting intense shelling from three sides of the city.

Thousands of government troops attacked around 6 a.m. (11 p.m. Tuesday ET), with 13 rebels reported dead by evening. Mohamed Mokhtar, a rebel fighter wounded in Wednesday's fighting, accused government troops of infiltrating rebel lines in cars bearing rebel flags.

Dr. Khaled Abu Falgha, a spokesman for Misrata's Hekma hospital, said it was the bloodiest day in a week in the besieged city. More than 1,000 people are believed to have been killed since the fighting began there in February, including 686 registered residents of the city, he said.

Rebel fighters returning from the front lines reported that their defenses were holding up under the onslaught, however.

The assault followed a day of intense bombardment of Libya's capital by the NATO alliance, which intervened in the conflict in March under a U.N. mandate to protect civilians as Gadhafi tried to crush the revolt against him. Libya's government said 60 missiles struck the capital city, killing at least 31 people, including a number of civilians, and wounding dozens more.

NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen reiterated Wednesday that the alliance is doing all it can to avoid civilian casualties. But he told reporters from allied headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, that NATO could continue the airstrikes "for as long as it takes to bring this crisis to an early conclusion."

Rasmussen said NATO bombing has saved lives in Libya, and that the alliance has the resources to extend its military mission for another 90 days past the end of June.

It is time to start planning for what to do after Gadhafi's departure "because Gadhafi's reign of terror is coming to an end," he said.

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soundoff (One Response)
  1. Patrick Feenan

    Why don't you Americans and NATO catch yourselves on? You have been involved in nearly fifty wars since WW2. You are destroying TRIPOLI, What for? To get your hands on the oil there? Why don't you go and bomb your friends in Bahrain, Yemen and Saudi Arabia, you are turning Libya into another Vietnam and this is the 40th anniversary of that young girl who was burned by the napalm bombs in Vietnam. Go and get a grip!!!

    June 8, 2011 at 10:18 pm |