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Battaglia decisiva ad Az Zawiyah, a 50 km ovest da Tripoli

Az-Zawiyah. Nella città molto vicina a Tripoli, tra la capitale e la Tunisia, si sta combattendo forse lo scontro decisivo. La battaglia è a 30 miglia da Tripoli, ma ad ovest. Se cade Az Zawiyah  la marcia dei ribelli su Tripoli sarà molto rapida. Ecco un’agenzia Reuters di poco fa, ore 15:

BENGHAZI, Libya (Reuters) – Forces loyal to Muammar Gaddafi launched a counter-attack on Thursday as rebels threatened the Libyan leader’s grip on power by seizing important towns close to the capital.

The opposition already control major centers in the east, including the regional capital Benghazi, and reports that the towns of Misrata and Zuara in the west had also fallen brought the tide of rebellion ever closer to Gaddafi’s power base.

Forces loyal to Gaddafi on Thursday attacked anti-government militias controlling Misrata and killed several people in fighting near the city’s airport.

“The (pro-Gaddafi) brigade has managed to control the site but we are still trying to push it back. The clashes are still taking place at the moment,” a witness told Reuters.

Violence also reached the town of Az-Zawiyah, just 50 km (30 miles) west of the capital Tripoli.

Al Jazeera television broadcast pictures on Thursday of what it said was a burning police station there. But a witness told Reuters the Libyan army was maintaining a heavy presence there.

The brief, grainy pictures of Az-Zawiyah were followed by footage of around 20 bodies, most with their hands tied behind their backs. The satellite station said the men had been shot for refusing to shoot protesters.

Al Arabiya television said Gaddafi would address residents of the town shortly.

The uprising has virtually wiped out Libya’s oil exports, said the head of Italy’s ENI, Libya’s biggest foreign oil operator. The unrest has driven world oil prices up to around $120 a barrel, stoking concern about the economic recovery.

Anti-government militias are in control of Zuara, about 120 km (75 miles) west of Tripoli, fleeing Egyptian construction workers who crossed into Tunisia told Reuters on Thursday.

There was no sign of police or military and the town was controlled by “popular committees” armed with automatic weapons.

“The people are in control. Police stations have been burned and we didn’t see any police or army in the past few days,” Egyptian laborer Ahmed Osman said after leaving the town and crossing the border into Tunisia.

Separately, lawyers and judges said they had the coastal city of Misrata, 125 miles east of Tripoli, in their grip, according to an Internet statement.

With help from “honest” military officers, they had removed agents of the “oppressive regime” in Misrata, said the statement, which could not immediately be verified.

World leaders condemned Gaddafi’s bloody crackdown on the week-long revolt that has split Libya, but did little to halt the bloodshed from the latest upheaval reshaping the Arab world.

U.S. President Barack Obama made his first public comments, condemning as “outrageous” and “unacceptable” attacks on protesters that have killed hundreds in 10 days.


Washington and Brussels spoke of possible sanctions against a man whose 41 years in power have been marked by idiosyncratic defiance of the West, yet there seemed little cohesion and urgency in the global response to the Libyan crisis.

The desert nation pumps nearly 2 percent of the world’s oil.

“It is imperative that the nations and peoples of the world speak with one voice,” Obama said. “The suffering and bloodshed are outrageous.”

French Defense Minister Alain Juppe said he hoped Gaddafi was “living his last moments as leader.” British Foreign Secretary William Hague urged the world to increase pressure on Gaddafi, whose grip on power appeared to be slipping.

The oil exports which Gaddafi used to help end his isolation in the past decade have given him means to resist the fate of his immediate neighbors, the presidents of Tunisia and Egypt, who were brought down by popular unrest in the past few weeks.

Italy’s foreign minister said as many as 1,000 people may have been killed in Libya. Unconfirmed reports spoke of troops and African mercenaries firing on protesters.

As in other parts of the Arab world, protesters in Libya appear to be driven mainly by frustration with political oppression and economic hardship, and are largely secular.

Yet al Qaeda’s North African wing threw its weight behind their cause, urging protesters to “continue their struggle and revolution and to escalate it to oust the criminal tyrant,” according to the SITE Intelligence Group.

As elements of the security forces and other senior government figures defected to the protesters, it was unclear how long Gaddafi could hang on to power.

Thousands of foreigners — from doctors to oil contractors — fled Libya through its ports and borders in mass emergency evacuations.

In cities like Benghazi and Tobruk, troops and police have either withdrawn or have joined diffuse and disparate opposition groups to start providing some order and services.

In Tobruk there was evidence of violent protest. An interior ministry building has been burned out, a Reuters correspondent there said, and the shells of about 15 vehicles lie in its central courtyard.

Breyek, 25, an unemployed graduate, said: “With 1,000 people dead, none of the clans will go back to Gaddafi. We don’t know who will govern the country now but Libyans must act with one hand. No one should rule just the east or the west.”

In Tripoli, which remains largely closed to foreign media, locals said streets were calm but that they were too scared to go outside for fear of being shot by pro-government forces.

“I haven’t heard gunshots, unlike in the last few days,” said one resident living close to Green Square in the city center, a focus for gatherings.

He said Gaddafi supporters had gathered in the square. “They are mostly young men, but there were some older women too.”

Marwan Mohammed, a Tunisian crossing the border home after leaving Tripoli, said: “Lots of people are afraid to leave their homes in Tripoli and pro-Gaddafi gunmen are roaming around threatening any people who gather in groups.”


Oil wealth has made Libya — a thinly populated country stretching from the Mediterranean deep into the Sahara — an important investor in Western economies and won Gaddafi potential allies in forums like the United Nations.

Differences among world powers over how to proceed, some driven by concern not to jeopardize the safety of foreigners caught up in the trouble, appear to limit prospects for immediate international action.

Gaddafi, who has ruled Libya with a mixture of populism and tight control since taking power in a military coup in 1969, has promised to “cleanse Libya house by house” to crush the revolt.

In Benghazi, cradle of the uprising and home to tribes long hostile to Gaddafi, thousands filled the streets, lighting fireworks and waving the red, black and green flag of the king the young Colonel Gaddafi overthrew in 1969.

A medical official said some 320 had died in Benghazi alone since protests against oppression and poverty began last week.

(Reporting by Tarek Amara, Christian Lowe, Marie-Louise Gumuchian, Souhail Karam, Firouz Sedarat, Tom Pfeiffer; Brian Love, Daren Butler; Dina Zayed, Sarah Mikhail and Tom Perry; Martina Fuchs, Michael Georgy; writing by Giles Elgood; Editing by Kevin Liffey)


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