NATO strike hits government weapons depot: rebels

May 9, 2011


TRIPOLI: NATO launched airstrikes Sunday against a Libyan government weapons depot near the rebel-held town of Zintan and heavy fighting was reported near Misrata airport in western Libya, rebel spokesmen said.

Zintan is in the Western Mountains region that has seen escalating conflict between forces loyal to Moammar Gadhafi and rebels fighting to end his four decades in power.

“NATO struck weapons depots … in an area which lies about 30 kilometers southeast of Zintan. We heard a loud explosion … I think the strike hit some of them [the depots],” the rebel spokesman who gave his name as Abdulrahman said by telephone.


“We are now at a cemetery burying 11 people martyred during [Saturday’s] fighting in which 35 fighters were also wounded,” he said. There was rocket fire on the town Saturday from pro-Gadhafi forces, the rebels said.

Rebels in the city of Misrata were engaged in intense fighting Sunday with government forces near the airport, a rebel spokesman told Reuters.

Fighting in other parts of Libya has reached stalemate despite weeks of NATO airstrikes that aid rebels who hold Benghazi and other eastern towns but are besieged in the port city of Misrata in western Libya.

Gadhafi’s forces are concealing tanks and artillery and using “shoot and scoot” tactics in Misrata, frustrating NATO air efforts to break the weeks-long siege of the city, the rebels and NATO officials say.

Government forces have abandoned the city center to the rebels but are entrenched in the built-up outskirts, sometimes firing from the open and scuttling for cover between buildings.

The government bombarded fuel storage tanks for the city Friday, sparking a huge fire.

Groups of rebels in Misrata surrendered to the government, the state-run Al-Jamahiriya television station said Sunday in an apparent effort to capitalize on the strike’s impact.

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