Gaddafi forces gain part of western city Misrata

Reuters News
Posted: Mar 28, 2011 9:30 AM
Gaddafi forces gain part of western city Misrata

TRIPOLI (Reuters) - Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi's forces gained control of part of the western city of Misrata, a rebel spokesman said on Monday, while the government claimed to have "liberated" the rebel stronghold.

"Part of the city is under rebel control and the other part is under the control of forces loyal to Gaddafi," the spokesman, who did not want to give his name, said about Libya's third largest city.

"I can't talk to you because the situation is not totally safe," he added.

Although rebels have made advances in the east in recent days, Misrata was the only city under rebel control in the west. International organisations have expressed concern about humanitarian conditions in the besieged city.

A Libyan government spokesman referred to "liberated Misrata" and organised a trip to bring international journalists on Monday afternoon to the city.

Al Jazeera television quoted rebel spokesman Saadoun al-Misrati as saying government forces bombed Misrata on Monday and that snipers were on rooftops.

Rebels and a resident said eight people were killed when forces loyal to Gaddafi resumed attacks on Sunday, ending a brief lull in fighting following Western air strikes.

Simon Brooks, head of the International Committee of the Red Cross operations in eastern Libya, said several aid organisations had delivered humanitarian relief supplies to Misrata by boat in recent days, even as they continue to seek permission from Libyan authorities to expand help in the country's west.

"The humanitarian situation there is fairly grave, fairly dire," he said by satellite phone. "Supplies are going in by boat."

(Reporting by Maria Golovnina in Tripoli, Souhail Karam in Rabat and Dina Zayed in Cairo; writing by Adam Tanner)