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Libya timeline: Rebels and Qaddafi's troops still battling for Brega

Now into the eighth week of Libya's conflict, Qaddafi's troops pushed the rebels to the outskirts of Brega just as the rebels had been preparing their first oil shipment to Qatar.

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March 29: US, European, and Arab leaders meet in London to discuss their roles in Libya now that NATO is slated to take over military command. They say they will help Libya craft a new "political future." After being halted outside Sirte on Monday, rebels are now being pushed back east by Qaddafi's troops.

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March 28: A westward advance by rebel troops is halted about 50 miles east of Sirte, Qaddafi's hometown, by his forces. In the west, rebels lose control of part of Misratah after heavy shelling from Qaddafi's troops. Misratah, located about 130 miles east of Tripoli, has been the westernmost city under rebel control.

March 27: Rebels continue making gains, retaking several cities west of Ajdabiya, including the key oil town of Ras Lanuf.

Other Monitor coverage this week:

  • Scott Peterson in Tripoli writes that there's so much false information coming from Qaddafi's supporters that journalists are skeptical of even those claims that appear accurate.

Week 6, March 20-26

March 26: As promised, rebels retake Ajdabiya, with eyewitnesses telling Reuters that Qaddafi's troops were seen retreating westward toward the oil town of Brega. President Obama, under pressure at home for US involvement in Libya, defended the international air campaign and said had "lost the confidence of his people and the legitimacy to rule ... the aspirations of the Libyan people must be realized."

March 25: After British strikes on the remainder of Qaddafi's forces around Ajdabiya, rebels vow that the key eastern city will be in their hands within 24 hours. Meanwhile, Qaddafi keeps up his campaign of confusion with erratic statements and actions – though many true believers in Tripoli defend his philosophy and leadership as unerring.

March 24: Western forces step up their airstrikes in Tripoli overnight and into the morning in some of the biggest strikes seen since the campaign began. Qaddafi's supporters say that both military and civilian targets were hit and that dozens have died, but Western reporters say there is little proof of such high numbers. NATO is put in command of imposing the no-fly zone, but coalition forces remain in control of attacks on the ground.

March 23: Air strikes reportedly put pressure on Qaddafi's forces staging an assault in Misratah, the last rebel-held western city. In the east, Libyan civilians flee the besieged city of Ajdabiya, which rebels are struggling to retake, Murphy writes.

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