Libyan Rebels Surge, Near Crucial City

Decisive battle looms in Sirte
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 28, 2011 7:34 AM CDT
Sirte: Libyan Rebels Surge, Near Crucial City
A Libyan rebel has the rebel flag painted on his fingers as he flashes the vicory sign on the front line outside of Bin Jawaad, 150 km east of Sirte, central Libya, Monday, March 28 2011.   (AP Photo/Anja Niedringhaus)

Rebel forces appeared to regain their momentum yesterday, capturing at least three important towns and two major oil refineries in a march that brought them just outside Gadhafi’s hometown of Sirte, the Washington Post and New York Times report. In Benghazi, rebels celebrated as rumors spread that Sirte had already been taken, firing guns and rockets into the air. But those rumors appear to be unfounded, and dozens of pro-Gadhafi fighters were reportedly seen roaming Sirte's streets last night.

Rebels had tried to take Sirte before international forces intervened, but were driven back. But now that they’ve got the support of American and European airstrikes—which have largely turned to attacking Gadhafi’s ground troops—the advance proved surprisingly easy. But air cover may be less useful in taking the heavily defended Sirte, the Times warns, and the battle there could help decide the war. (More Libya stories.)

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