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Terrorism & Security

Libya rebels mark major gains against Qaddafi

Libya rebels reclaimed the Misurata airport yesterday. As they advance on the eastern oil town of Brega, Britain offered them several million dollars in aid and a London office.

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Libyan officials have criticized NATO airstrikes for exceeding the mandate of United Nations Resolution 1973, which authorizes member states to take all necessary measures short of a foreign occupation to protect civilians under attack in Libya.

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John Burns, reporting from Tripoli for The New York Times, explains that NATO has "determined that Col. Qaddafi himself is the most important control and command structure of all and that that makes him a legitimate target."

Rebels seize Misurata airport

Also on Wednesday, rebels in beleaguered Misurata stormed the city's airport and reclaimed it from pro-Qaddafi soldiers. Misurata, Libya’s third-largest city, sits about 116 miles east of Tripoli.

The New York Times described the airport's seizure as a major gain for the rebels, reporting: "With the loyalists suffering a string of defeats in recent days and the rebels gaining weapons and confidence, Colonel Qaddafi now appeared weaker than ever before, Misurata residents said. With their advance, the rebels had, at least for the moment, the potential to cut off government forces in the east from those in the west of Libya, threatening the logistics lines of Qaddafi forces."

The Financial Times notes with caution that "The capture of the airport is a blow to the Gaddafi regime, although previous important rebel gains have quickly been reversed as the conflict has ebbed and flowed."

Eastern rebels advance on Brega

While Misurata's anti-Qaddafi forces stormed their city's airport, rebels in the east advanced westward from Ajdabiya toward the oil town of Brega. The rebel attack highlighted increased coordination with NATO. The rebels made a preliminary attack, then pulled back about 12 miles on orders from NATO to provide bombers with a zone to hit pro-Qaddafi targets, reported The Wall Street Journal.

"There was a really large force of Gadhafi forces heading towards Adjabiya," Col. Ahmed Omar Bani, the spokesman for the rebel army, told the Journal. "As they moved on Adjabiya they were hit by NATO forces."

"We expect to be able to capture Brega but it will take time. Our training is improving," Abdul Jawad, commander of Omar Mokhtar Brigade that took part in the rebel assault, told the Journal.

Britain supports National Transitional Council

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