Opposition captures main oil export terminal in eastern Libya

The leader de facto of Libya, Muammar al-Gaddafi.Image via Wikipedia

Libyan rebels have entered the key oil town of Ras Lanuf after routing Muammar Gaddafi's forces in Brega with help from UN-backed air strikes that tipped the balance away from the military.

Brega, the main oil export terminal in eastern Libya, fell after a skirmish late on Saturday, and rebels continued their push westwards to Ras Lanuf and its large oil refinery. "There is no Gaddafi army in Ras Lanuf," said Walid al-Arabi, a rebel fighter.

The Gaddafi regime on Saturday acknowledged that air strikes had forced its troops to retreat and accused international forces of choosing sides. "This is the objective of the coalition now, it is not to protect civilians because now they are directly fighting against the armed forces," said the deputy foreign minister, Khaled Kaim. "They are trying to push the country to the brink of a civil war."

The town of Ajdabiya fell on Friday night, the Libyan revolutionaries' first significant victory over Gaddafi's forces since the coalition air strikes began a week ago. "We hit them with our rockets and RPGs," said Mohammed Rahim, a former regular soldier wearing a makeshift uniform of blue camouflage jacket and green trousers. "The fighting went on all night. It was a big battle. All the fighters came from Benghazi for it."

Actually they are trying to get Qaddafi to leave or face defeat. It is a thinly disguised campaign for regime change in Libya. Some of the recent losses by the government will have a strategic effect by denying the government its main source of revenue. With the foreigners now mainly out of Libya, they are already losing the revenue from extortion and bribes. Now they will be losing oil revenue. Western governments have also seized their foreign assets which were substantial.
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