The military situation in Libya has evidently gone from bad to worse for the Benghazi-based rebels fighting forces loyal to dictator Moammar Gaddafi. After being thwarted in their weeklong attempt to re-take the key oil port of Brega, the rebels have now been forced back 50 miles to Ajdabiya, which is now reported under artillery bombardment by the Gaddafi troops. Reuters reports:
Muammar Gaddafi's artillery heavily bombarded Ajdabiyah and his forces forced their way inside on Sunday . . .
Rebels cowered in alleyways from sustained artillery, rocket and small-arms fire and appeared to be losing control of the town, which is gateway to their stronghold of Benghazi 150 km (90 miles) up the Mediterranean coast to the north.
Ajdabiyah had been the launch point for insurgents during a week-long fight for the oil port of Brega further west and its fall would be a serious loss. ...
Gaddafi's artillery shelled the western approaches all morning and two rockets landed in the centre in the middle of the day. There were long exchanges of small arms fire.
To say that Gaddafi's capture of Ajdabiya "would be a serious loss" is an understatement: Losing the town would be a disaster for the rebels, who have already been forced to retreat more than 200 miles eastward since March 28, when their advance threatened Gaddafi's hometown of Sirte. As the Associated Press says, if the rebels lose Ajdabiya, "the way is open for a siege of Benghazi."
Rumors that Gaddafi's troops were advancing on Ajdabiya were first reported Thursday and, as I wrote in my American Spectator column Friday, "Scarcely three weeks after the U.S. military launched Operation Odyssey Dawn, the war in Libya is beginning to look like President Obama's worst failure to date."
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