Saturday, April 9, 2011

Libya: Heavy fighting resumed in Misrata

Major battles took place on Friday evening between rebels and forces loyal to Colonel Muammar Gaddafi in the town of Misrata. Four people were killed, including two children, and ten others wounded by shelling and rocket attacks on homes, said a spokesman for the rebels in the town 200 km east of Tripoli.

"Gaddafi's forces continue to fire indiscriminately at houses in Misrata," railed the spokesman. In the evening, the European Union, far eclipsed by the mission of NATO was prepared to launch a military-humanitarian mission to help the besieged people, a mission which Germany is inclined to participate but yet to be accepted by the UN.

The head of European diplomacy, Catherine Ashton, addressed to Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, ensuring that the EU is "ready to act" by all means, "including military," so to support the humanitarian and 300 000 people living in the city. In the eastern region of Libya, the rebels continued in the day, to control the city of Ajdabiya, while the possibility of an attack by forces of Colonel Qaddafi to materialize each day a little more.

Firing with heavy weapons have been identified at the entrance west of the city, forcing the rebels to retreat into the city center. Thursday already rumors of an imminent attack had caused the flight of thousands of civilians and combatants towards Benghazi, 160 km further north. Several rebel commander ensures that the front line always lies somewhere between the site and Ajdabiya Brega oil, about 80 km further west.

Fierce fighting raged in this region for over a week. NATO, which denies that there is an "impasse" political or military in Libya, has expressed regret for the deaths caused by Allied air raid on a rebel column of tanks near Brega. "It's a very unfortunate incident," conceded the NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen regarding the bombing Thursday that killed two soldiers and one or two doctors, in addition to 14 wounded and six missing.

This is the second time that NATO was pulling together on the rebels since they took over on March 31 of the multinational coalition led by the United States. "We never asked for an apology to NATO, but merely an explanation. We do not question the good faith of NATO," said Shamseddin Abdelmolah, a spokesman for the National Transition Council ( CNT).

"It seems there was a break in communication, perhaps due to circumstances on the ground, which has ensured that the position of our tanks has not been made clear," he added. "The problem is that there is no formal link" between the military leadership of the rebellion and NATO, said a source close to Western diplomats, quoted anonymously by.

For its part, the UN plans to visit in the coming days to Libya to investigate allegations of abuses by security forces and rebel-Qaddafi. This independent commission of inquiry is composed of three members and headed by Cherif Bassiouni, an expert in war crimes. The two other experts appointed by the UN are the Jordanian lawyer Asma Khader and Canada's Philippe Kirsch, a former judge of the International Criminal Court (ICC).

Experts should leave Sunday and return to Geneva by the end of the month. The mission will visit Egypt and Tunisia. "The timing of the trip will not be released (...) for security reasons", Mr. Bassiouni said at a news conference in Geneva. "We will visit Libya in the east and west of Libya, he added.

The inquiry must be fair, impartial and independent. That's what we intend to do. We leave Geneva on Sunday and we hope to be back at the end of the month. "

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