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Libya rebels push towards Tripoli

Jun 16, 2011

In the latest development of the conflict in Libya, rebels pushed deeper into government-held territory south of the capital on Wednesday. Their advance came as strains began to emerge in the Western alliance trying to topple Muammar Gaddafi.

Final destination, Tripoli. Libyan rebels on the front-line near Misrata have been inching slowly west towards the neighboring town of Zlitan along the coastal road to the capital. They have repeatedly had to fall back due to fire from government forces. In the Western Mountains, a stronghold of theirs about 150 km south-west of Tripoli, rebels built on gains made in the past few days by pushing pro-Gaddafi forces out of two villages.

But the rebels are still a long way from Gaddafi's main base in Tripoli. The NATO military alliance, which has been pounding Gaddafi's military and command- and-control structures for nearly three months, has failed to dislodge him. The rebels have expressed frustration that NATO has not been more active at taking out Gaddafi's forces, and is not doing more to coordinate with fighters on the ground.

Ties are becoming strained in the alliance, with some NATO members complaining that others have been reluctant to commit additional resources needed to sustain the bombing mission in the coming months. However, Secretary General of NATO Anders Fogh Rasmussen said the mission in Libya is progressing. He said NATO had destroyed or damaged more than 2,000 important military targets, and have saved a great number of lives.

He said, "We have just a few weeks ago decided to extend our operation for a further three months and allies and partners are committed to provide the necessary resources and assets to continue this operation and see it through to a successful conclusion and a successful conclusion would be a peaceful transition to democracy."

Adding to the pressure, Republicans in the US Congress are pressing President Barack Obama to explain the legal grounds on which he is keeping US forces involved in Libya without the authorization of Congress. The White House will later send Congress a detailed report answering questions about the objectives of the US military involvement in Libya.