Libyan troops kill 8 rebels near eastern oil town

Libyan troops kill 8 rebels near eastern oil town
# 19 July 2011 22:05 (UTC +04:00)
Baku-APA. Government forces in trucks disguised with rebel flags shelled opposition positions Tuesday near the strategic eastern oil town of Brega, killing eight rebel fighters and wounding dozens more, officials said, APA reports quoting Associated Press.
In an audio message broadcast on state TV, embattled rulerMoammar Gadhafi emphasized the importance of Libya’s vast oil wealth to his regime, and called the civil war a battle "for our way of life."
Rebel forces have been pushing to seize the front-line town of Brega, which is home to an oil refinery and terminal, for nearly a week, but they say fields of land mines planted by Gadhafi’s forces have slowed the advance.
The rebels are fighting in a residential area on Brega’s eastern side and control about one-third of the town, spokesman Mohammed al-Rajali said.
Field commander Ahmed Maysawi said rebel forces were working to clear the mines so they can move forward while government troops are occasionally approaching in trucks disguised with rebel flags to shell rebel positions with mounted rocket launchers.
A NATO spokesman said he could not confirm rebel claims about Brega, saying only that the situation there remained "very fluid."
"It would be premature for us to come with a verdict with respect to the situation there, so this will be something we need to monitor closely in coming days," said Col. Roland Lavoie, spokesman for the alliance’s operational headquarters in Naples, Italy.
Mohammed Idris, a doctor at the hospital in the nearby city of Ajdabiya, said eight rebels were killed and dozens wounded Tuesday. That raised to at least 34 rebels killed in five days of fighting, according to Idris.
He said the rebels had taken four prisoners, and one dead government soldier had been taken to the rebel hospital. It is unclear how many other government soldier have been killed. The Libyan government rarely provides information on its casualties.
In his audio address to a pro-government rally in the town of al-Azaziya, Gadhafi emphasized the importance of Libya’s wealth and made a rare reference to the fuel shortages caused by Tripoli’s international isolation that have made life hard in government-controlled areas.
"This battle is in our homes. It has affected our children’s food, our oil, our oil fields," he said in a clip shown on state TV. "It cuts off electricity, it cuts off gas. This battle is for our children’s food, for our way of life."
Rebels struggling to oust Gadhafi since the uprising against his rule broke out in February control much of Libya’s east, but Brega, 450 miles (750 kilometers) southeast of Tripoli, has been under government control since early April.
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