Qaddafi Forces Breach Misrata Front Line During Heavy Fighting

Forces loyal to Muammar Qaddafi attacked the Libyan city of Misrata, breaching the opposition’s front line to the west and killing 11 rebel fighters, military officials in the rebel-held enclave said.

The aim of yesterday’s assault was to capture a strategic hill that gives views over the city, said Hassan Duew, a rebel commander. Qaddafi’s soldiers were pushed back and the front line remains in place. There was no comment from the government on the fighting or whether its forces sustained casualties.

“They advanced 300 meters over the front line,” Duew said in an interview late yesterday.

Misrata, about 170 kilometers (100 miles) from the capital, Tripoli, is the main rebel-held city in western Libya and has been under siege for most of the uprising that began in February. The attack comes four days after rebel forces pushed west to within 3 kilometers of the nearby government-held town of Zlitan, where they are now dug in.

Duew said rebels were angry that there was no sign of any North Atlantic Treaty Organization assistance during the battle, which saw a heavy bombardment by government rockets and mortar bombs. “Every day 10 die, 11 die,” he said. “Where is NATO?”

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