Gaddafi's forces fire Scud missile, no injuries

Reuters , Tuesday 16 Aug 2011

Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi's forces fired a Scud missile for the first time since the uprising against his rule began six months ago, but it landed in the desert and injured no one

The missile was fired on Sunday morning from a location about 50 miles (80 km) east of Sirte, Muammar Gaddafi's home town, and landed east of the coastal oil town of Brega, a U.S. defense official said on condition of anonymity.

It was unclear what Gaddafi might have been targeting, the official said, without speculating about the motives behind a missile launch that came in the wake of recent rebel gains that have increased pressure on the Libyan leader.

Gaddafi's aging stockpile of Soviet-era Scud missiles, which have an estimated range of about 185 miles (300 km), were among the earliest targets of the NATO air campaign that began in March.

Libyan rebels said on Monday they had seized a second strategic town near Tripoli within 24 hours, completing the encirclement of the capital in the boldest advances yet of their uprising against Gaddafi.

The U.S. State Department said it believed Libyan rebel advances were choking off Gaddafi's forces in the capital Tripoli and significantly increasing pressure on him.

The upbeat assessment marked a changing tone in Washington, where until recently frustration over the slow progress on the battlefield and internal divisions among the rebels had undercut optimism.

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