NATO air strikes destroy 25 Gaddafi tanks to relieve rebels
NATO destroyed 25 tanks in a new attack on forces loyal to Colonel Muammar Gaddafi yesterday. The strikes were designed to counter an assault by the dictator, whose troops carried out sustained artillery bombardments on rebel-held positions over the weekend.
Coalition aircraft targeted Gaddafi's troops outside Ajdabiya, in eastern Libya, and Misurata, the only rebel-held town in the west, which has been under siege for six weeks.
The strikes came as a delegation of African leaders arrived in Tripoli to try to persuade Gaddafi to halt the violence against his own people.
NATO's air attacks, combined with rebel fighting, halted the advances of Gaddafi's troops, who were believed to have killed at least 30 rebels in Misurata.
The rebels were outflanked by loyalists during their attempt to advance on the town of Brega and were then forced into street-to-street fighting to defend their hold on Ajdabiya, 90 miles south of Benghazi.
NATO has also targeted ammunition bunkers and lines of communications held by Gaddafi's forces. At least 15 loyalist soldiers have been killed.
NATO's Lieutenant General Charles Bouchard said Gaddafi's use of civilians as human shields was posing a huge hurdle. "We have observed horrific examples of regime forces deliberately placing their weapons systems close to civilians, their homes, and even places of worship," he said. (© Daily Telegraph, London)