Rebels say Gaddafi forces beaten back in Misrata

AFP , Saturday 19 Mar 2011

Anti-Gaddafi combatants beat back forces loyal to the incumbent leader but suffered the loss of 27 of their fighters

Rebel fighters sit on a tank captured from Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi's forces in Benghazi 19 March 2011. (Reuters)

Rebels in the city of Misrata said on Saturday they had beaten back an onslaught by forces loyal to Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, destroying heavy armour but suffering 27 casualties.

A rebel spokesman reached by telephone said the city, 210 kilometres (130 miles) east of the capital, was calm on Saturday after fierce fighting the previous day in which loyalists forces penetrated the centre before being forced out again.

"Twenty-seven rebel fighters were killed," the spokesman told AFP. "We destroyed 14 armoured vehicles, including tanks."

State television said late Thursday that Gaddafi loyalists had overrun Misrata, the country's third city, but that was denied the following day by rebels in the city.

Misrata came under rebel control some 10 days after the uprising against Gaddafi's regime began on February 15, and has been the scene of sporadic clashes between the two sides ever since.

The spokesman's claims could not be independently verified.

On Friday morning, Tripoli announced an immediate truce after the United Nations Security Council passed a resolution for a no-fly zone over Libya.

The rebels as well as the United States have accused the Gaddafi regime of violating the ceasefire, but Libyan Deputy Foreign Minister Khaled Kaim has accused rebels of also breaching the truce by attacking government forces in the east.


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