Battle For Brega Lingers Amid Push For Diplomacy In Libya

By Kenneth R. Bazinet

Libyan rebels supported by NATO warplanes in the east are wrapping up the latest Brega campaign, but a few loyalists to Moammar Gadhafi are still fighting on in what may be shaping up as a definitive final battle for the oil port city.

“NATO and the rebels have tried to attack Brega for the last five days,” Gadhafi spokesman Moussa Ibrahim boasted in Tripoli. “The only way for them to control Brega is to attack it with nuclear bombs.”

Gadhafi’s main force has retreated to Ras Lanuf, but left behind a Brega strewn with land mines, according to rebel reports. The rebels outside of Brega also came under artillery fire from Gadhafi’s guns.

“It is going to take the revolutionaries at least 10 days to claim full control of Brega,” rebel spokesman Abdel Salam told Reuters in Misurata.

In the west, the rebels Nafusa Mountains division is hung up and regrouping outside Gadhafi-held Gharyan, about 60 miles from Tripoli.

The latest offensive by the main rebel force in Brega came after a high-ranking U.S. delegation met with representatives of the regime over the weekend, telling them Gadhafi must go.

Russia criticized the U.S. and 30 other nations who recognized the rebel Transitional National Council as the legitimate government of Libya.

“Those who declare recognition stand fully on the side of one political force in a civil war,” Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said in Moscow.

Britain, at Friday’s meeting in Istanbul of the Libya Contact Group, also announced it would send four more Tornado jets to join the air campaign.

In oil-related news, Halliburton, which made billions from U.S. taxpayers through as series of somewhat sweetheart deals in the Iraq and Afghan wars, claims it lost $46 billion because of the revolution in Libya, but still reported net profits. 

Read more from Kenneth R. Bazinet at the Baz File

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