Libyan Rebels Gain Ground in Misrata


Libyan rebels say they gained ground in the besieged port city of Misrata, while United Nations chief Ban Ki-moon on Wednesday urged the Libyan government stop its assault and allow humanitarian access to civilians in need.
Rebels say they pushed forces loyal to Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi further away from Misrata in heavy fighting.

A rebel military spokesman said that opposition forces had forced pro-government forces back about 15 kilometers from the city. Colonel Ahmed Bani also said rebels had dislodged pro-Gadhafi forces from around Misrata’s airport after two days of battles.

Meanwhile, the U.N. secretary-general called for an immediate cease-fire in Libya. During a news conference in Geneva on Wednesday, Ban said said made the request during a phone call to to Libya’s prime minister, al-Baghdadi Ali al-Mahmoudi.

The secretary-general also said he demanded that U.N. staff members be given access in Libya.

The U.N. refugee agency called on European nations and boat captains in the Mediterranean to rescue people fleeing from Libya’s unrest.  Agency spokeswoman Melissa Fleming said Tuesday that any boat leaving Libya should be considered a boat in need of assistance.

She urged governments and captains not to wait for distress calls but to head immediately to the vessels to see if the people on board are in need of help.

Fleming commented after a flimsy vessel reportedly overloaded with more than 600 passengers capsized on Friday shortly after leaving Libya.  At least 16 bodies have been recovered so far.


Categories: MIDDLE EAST

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