As Rebels Lose Ground, a Debate: Do We Arm Them?

Meanwhile, Gadhafi drives rebels out of oil town Ras Lanuf
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 30, 2011 7:13 AM CDT
Updated Mar 30, 2011 7:54 AM CDT
As Rebels Lose Ground, a Debate: Do We Arm Them?
A picture taken from a taxi cab shows Libyan anti-government rebels checking cars in the western Libyan city of Zintan, about 150 kms south of Tripoli, on February 28, 2011.   (Getty Images/AFP)

Rebels suffered a significant setback on their main front yesterday, as Gadhafi’s heavily-armed forces drove them out of the oil port of Ras Lanuf, according to the Wall Street Journal. Defeats like that raise the possibility that the coalition will need to arm the rebels, a move Barack Obama yesterday said was a definite option: "I’m not ruling it out, but I’m also not ruling it in," he told NBC News. "We’re still making an assessment partly about what Qaddafi’s forces are going to be doing. Keep in mind, we’ve been at this now for nine days." Opponents say supplying arms would pull the US in deeper, because the rebels would need to be trained to use even relatively simple weapons.

Meanwhile, coalition airstrikes have begun targeting cities and towns near Libya’s western border, in an apparent attempt to open a second front in the rebels’ war against Moammar Gadhafi. Libyan authorities took reporters to Mizdah yesterday to show off the damage those strikes had allegedly done to civilian buildings; in one case, a strike on an arms depot had apparently caused Libyan rockets to fire into a nearby hospital, injuring some civilians, the LA Times reports. (More Libya stories.)

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