10 Mar 2011

LIVE BLOG: Libya crisis – the battle for Zawiyah

The latest updates, video and #c4news tweets from Libya as pro-Gaddafi forces fight rebels in Zawiyah, Ras Lanuf and Bin Jawad.

LIVE BLOG: Libya's battle for Zawiyah.
Libya: the battle for Zawiyah – add your voice

Thursday 10 March

17.30 Colonel Gaddafi’s son Saif Gaddafi says Libya is preparing full-scale military action to crush the rebellion and will not surrender even if western powers intervene.

16.15 Libya could become a “failed state”, the chief of NATO has warned, announcing plans for more ships to be moved to the Mediterranean as pro-Gaddafi forces reportedly launch attacks from oil tankers. Read more: Gaddafi forces launch air, land and sea attacks on rebels

15.30 Colonel Gaddafi is “hunkering down” and shows no sign he will give up power, the top US intelligence official says. Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said: “We believe that Gaddafi is in this for the long haul. He appears to be hunkering down for the duration.”

14.00 A rebel source in eastern Libya says that Gaddafi forces are firing rockets from offshore oil tankers at rebel positions onshore at Ras Lanuf. “I see them with my own eyes. The oil tankers are rocketing the town,” Salem Magrebi told Reuters. He added: “Planes are also bombing and rockets are being launched from the land.”

12.30 The Foreign Office says members of the rebel Libyan National Council are “valid interlocutors” with whom “we wish to work closely”.

11.35 Warplanes sent by forces loyal to Colonel Gaddafi bomb the oil town of Brega, extending attacks deeper into rebel-held territory in the east of Libya.

11.30 Gaddafi forces reportedly send two tanks towards rebel positions near Ras Lanuf.

We have now a non-international armed conflict, or what you would call civil war. Jakob Kellenberger

10.15 The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) says Libya has descended into civil war with increasing numbers of wounded civilians arriving in hospitals in eastern cities. “We have now a non-international armed conflict, or what you would call civil war,” says ICRH President Jakob Kellenberger. Details: Libya – urgent to apply the rules of war

09.00 Gaddafi forces launch fresh bombardment on the eastern Libyan oil town of Ras Lanuf.

Three BBC journalists reveal how they were detained, beaten and subjected to a "mock execution" by Gaddafi forces after attempting to enter Zawiyah. Read more here: BBC journalists 'beaten with fists, knees and rifles'

Wednesday 9 March

19.00 Zawiya fighter says rebels have retaken main square, Gaddafi forces now 1km outside city – Reuters.

18.30 The White House says the UN arms embargo on Libya contains enough flexibility to allow the arming of Libyan rebels if such a decision were made.

18.10 Portuguese Foreign Minister Luis Amado will meet an emissary of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi in Lisbon, Portugal’s state news agency Lusa reports. Earlier, an official in Malta said Libyan emissaries had arrived for talks, and then flown to Portugal. A source in Brussels said the plane was carrying a moderate member of Gaddafi’s government.

17.30 An eyewitness from Zawiyah reports fresh, heavy bombardment on the west Libyan town.

Lindsey Hilsum tweets: Two amputations in Ajdabiya hospital - one a Gaddafi soldier from fighting in Bin Jawad. Follow updates on Twitter.

17.00 Rebel movement in eastern Libya says it does not see any issue in obtaining more arms and says it has been promised help from Qatar and other countries.

16.40 Several members of Gaddafi’s forces, inluding a general and a colonel, reportedly were killed in fighting in Zawiyah – Al Jazeera. Meanwhile Libyan authorities have offered a bounty of 500,000 Libyan dinars to anyone who captures rebel leader Mustafa Abdel Jalil and handed him in. Libyan state television also announced a reward of 200,000 dinars for information leading to the capture of Abdel Jalil, who it described as an “agent spy”.

16.00 Heavy fighting between Libyan rebels and Gaddafi’s forces near the oil port of Ras Lanuf. Reuters reports the two sides traded barrages of artillery shells and rockets, warplanes overhead, yellow fireball erupted at or near the location of a small oil terminal.

A banner hangs on the roof at Saif Gaddafi's London home. (via Twitter)

(Protesters hang an anti-Gaddafi banner on the roof of Saif Gaddafi’s London home, which they have reportedly “occupied”)

15.20 Rebels say their forces have moved back into Bin Jawad – but reports are unclear. The opposition movement announced via loudspeakers in the centre of Benghazi that rebels now controlled the town, 340 miles east of Tripoli. Crowds in Benghazi cheered.

15.00 Libyan state TV reports that small groups of people in Zawiyah are moving towards the city centre in a demonstration to support Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi. The report did not show any footage of the demonstration it said was taking place.

14.00 Social media is awash with speculation about the Libyan private plane which has reportedly flown a pro-Gaddafi minister to Cairo, Egypt. He apparently has a “message to deliver”.

Libya: map of rebel-held areas and Gaddafi strongholds.

13.20 Nato Secretary-Gerneral Anders Fogh Rasmussen says the alliance was is not looking to intervene in Libya but is “ready to respond”.

13.00 EU Foreign Policy Chief Cathy Ashton: “My general principle is that engagement is better than isolation. Isolation is effective in some circumstances but engagement is better. Having said that, as I have also made clear, we may have brought Gaddafi out of the cold. It is now time to send him back into the cold and fully and properly.”

Comment via Facebook: Herbert Makina Chikuta The writing is on the wall the 'rebels' will be dealt with.lts a shame really.They will have Gaddafi for the next 41 yrs AGAIN

13.18 Ras Lanuf: Three plumes of black smoke in an area around Es Sider oil terminal in east Libya after Gaddafi’s forces launched a heavy bombardment on rebel troops – Reuters.

12.45 Libyan exiled Crown Prince Mohammed El Senussi asks for a no-fly zone over Libya and strikes against Gaddafi’s air defences on but does not support foreign troops on the ground.

12.40 Rebel positions near the east Libyan oil terminal of Es Sider bombarded in a heavy barrage by forces loyal to Muammar Gaddafi, according to reports.

12.15 Speaking at Prime Minister’s Questions David Cameron says he spoke to US President Barack Obama on Tuesday night and that the “widest possible backing” would be needed for military action in Libya.

12.30 Italy, whose bases are likely to play a key role in any military action regarding Libya, will back any decisions taken by the United Nations, the European Union or Nato, the president’s office confirms.

11.30 Reports private plane owned by Gaddafi flies to Egypt as loyalist forces “flatten” rebel-held Zawiyah.

Read more: Channel 4 News reports from Libya

(Watch again: Jonathan Rugman‘s report from Sunday)

09.55 Heavy fighting forces the shutdown of one of Libya’s biggest refineries on the edge of the Zawiyah.

09.40 The Libyan people will take up arms against western powers if they seek to enforce a no-fly zone in their country’s airspace, Muammar Gaddafi has said in an interview with Turkish state-run television.

08.30 Zawiyah, 30 miles west of Tripoli, stands on the brink of falling to pro-Gaddafi forces as tanks close in on the main square. Eyewitness tells Reuters: “We can see the tanks, the tanks are everywhere.”

The town of Zawiyah has become the flashpoint centre of Libya‘s current unrest.

Read more – Last rebel held city in west set to fall to Gaddafi troops

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