Libyan government vows to take back rebel-held cities in east

Libyan government vows to take back rebel-held cities in east

Azerbaijan, Baku, March 11 /Trend/

Online activists said Friday that the government had sent out text messages to Libyans vowing that the rebel-held cities of Benghazi and Ajdabiyah in the east "will be liberated soon", dpa reported.

This comes one day after Gaddafi's son, Saif al-Islam, said in a speech late Thursday to youth in the capital Tripoli that the government would take back eastern cities.

"We are coming. We will win," he said.

However, thousands of worshippers gathered in the centre of the eastern city of Benghazi on Friday to attend mid-day prayers and continue their calls for Moamer Gaddafi's ouster.

Benghazi is the second-largest city in Libya and the first to push back Gaddafi's forces.

While eastern cities remained calm on Friday, reports of fierce fighting between rebels and Gaddafi's forces erupted again in the northern-central city of Ras Lanuf.

According to the opposition, the attacks on Ras Lanuf are part of an eastern push by Gaddafi forces towards Benghazi, now run by a National Council comprised of leading members of the opposition.

Despite claims on both sides over who was winning in Ras Lanuf, Arab media reported that Gaddafi's forces took control of the centre of the city, but that rebels were still claiming control over the mail oil refinery there.

On Thursday, air and naval attacks by troops loyal to Gaddafi left 17 people injured, medical sources said.

Rebels and members of the opposition in Libya said that a hospital in the under-siege city was forced to evacuate patients.

Other facilities that were hit during the continuous attacks included the parking lot of the hospital, a warehouse with medical supplies, a residential neighbourhood and a mosque.

A day earlier, air attacks had killed four people in the city, according to the Libyan news website Brneiq.

Most Ras Lanuf residents and employees at its main oil refinery have fled the city.

The opposition website Libya al-Youm said earlier that Gaddafi's forces had largely regained control over the city of al- Zawiyah, some 100 kilometres west of the capital Tripoli, after dozens of people were killed in clashes. An exact death toll was not available.

"What is awaiting the young men of al-Zawiyah who haven't been killed? Execution & torture. Sure thing is no chance of a normal life," wrote a Libyan activist on Twitter on Friday.

Meanwhile, European Union leaders gathered Friday for an emergency summit in Brussels, where they were widely expected to demand the immediate resignation Gaddafi.

According to Der Spiegel Online, an EU report found that member states provided Gaddafi with military equipment worth 474 million dollars in 2009 alone.

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