Libyan Rebels Take Crucial Port City Near Tripoli

They now control Zawiyah and its oil refinery
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 18, 2011 11:59 AM CDT
Libyan Rebels Take Control of Zawiyah and Oil Refinery
A Libyan rebel fighter readies his weapon before heading to the front line in Sabratha, 50 miles west of Tripoli.   (AP Photo/Giulio Petrocco)

(Newser) – This one sounds like a serious blow to Moammar Gadhafi: Rebels have taken control of the port city of Zawiyah and its all-important oil refinery, report the New York Times and Reuters. The rebels routed Gadhafi's troops last night, evident by the uniforms seen scattered about today by deserting government soldiers. The refinery, located only 30 miles from Tripoli, had been an important source of fuel for Gadhafi's troops.

Rebels also have claimed control of other cities surrounding the capital, notes al-Jazeera, but a Gadhafi spokesman downplayed the situation. "This is a crisis that will last a few days and then it will be—God willing—overcome," he said today. A rebel fighter in Zawiyah had a different view: "We took one tank and an anti-aircraft gun from Gadhafi's forces. Next, we'll go to Tripoli." (Read more Libya stories.)

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