In the past 13 days, the Libyan rebels have retreated more than 200 miles and, as of Sunday afternoon, were fighting to hold onto Ajdabiya, just 100 miles from the rebel capital at Benghazi. Chris McGreal of the U.K. Guardian reports:
Muammar Gaddafi’s forces continued to fight their way toward Benghazi . . .
Rebel defences around Ajdabiya appeared to be failing as Gaddafi’s soldiers broke into the heart of the strategic town, 90 miles from Benghazi, and engaged in running street battles after again outmanoeuvring the revolutionaries. . . .
Shelling around the southern entrance to Ajdabiya continued, with loud explosions heard and thick black smoke rising over parts of the town.
Much of Ajdabiya was deserted after civilians fled amid the prospect of Gaddafi’s troops taking the town for the second time in as many weeks. . . .
“Gaddafi’s military is in the town,” said Saleh Mufta, a 25-year-old who was a science student before becoming an armed rebel.
“There’s been a lot of shooting. Gaddafi has copied our techniques. He is not using so many tanks now after the air strikes. His men are in pickups. They move very fast. We don’t know where they are. They just pop up.” . . .
Asked what he thought the government army’s intent was, Mufta said: “They don’t want Ajdabiya. They want the road to Benghazi. They want Benghazi.”
A video report from al-Jazeera:
This morning at the American Spectator, I wrote:
To say that Gaddafi’s capture of Ajdabiya “would be a serious loss” is an understatement: Losing the town would be a disaster for the rebels, who have already been forced to retreat more than 200 miles eastward since March 28, when their advance threatened Gaddafi’s hometown of Sirte. As the Associated Press says, if the rebels lose Ajdabiya, “the way is open for a siege of Benghazi.”
Ed Morrissey says, “It doesn’t take a Sir Bernard Law Montgomery to read the map. Ajdabiya is the key to Benghazi and Tobruk.”
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