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Libyan Rebel Forces Tighten Grip on Brega

Libyan government forces have killed 8 rebels near the strategic oil town of Brega.
By Chana Ya'ar
First Publish: 7/20/2011, 11:56 AM / Last Update: 7/20/2011, 12:01 PM

Libyan government forces have killed eight rebels and wounded dozens of others in fierce fighting near the strategic oil town of Brega as control of the town swings back and forth between the two.

Nevertheless, rebel forces have managed to encircle the eastern oil hub and as of Wednesday morning local time had gained control of the south and eastern parts of the town, according to the Reuters news agency.

“Members of the revolutionary council saw some Qaddafi forces inside Brega but numbers are very, very low compared to the last few weeks,” a rebel spokesman told reporters.

However, he cautioned that it was too soon to say the town could be secured.

“There are unconfirmed stories of mines being left under dead bodies – when our people advance they bury the dead – and also under wads of money scattered around,” the spokesman said by telephone from the rebel stronghold of Benghazi in the east.

Dictator Muammar Qaddafi meanwhile told tens of thousands of his followers in an audio message broadcast Tuesday the country's oil reserves are essential to his regime. Speaking at a rally in the town of al-Aziziya, located 40 kilometers (25 miles) south of Tripoli, Qaddafi called the four month-old civil war raging across Libya a “battle for our way of life.”

The embattled dictator, whose speech was broadcast on Libyan television, vowed to keep on fighting, with or without weapons. “We will fight, we will defend, with men, women and children,” he said. “The time has come to decide this battle through the crowds. We do not need weapons.”