2011/03/05


A contact of the Observer inside the city said the fighting was intense. "You must tell the world what is happening," the man said by phone. "Snipers are firing at anyone who moves."
Another inhabitant reported that at least 20 tanks had rolled into the town and had started shelling its square. "The fighting has intensified and the tanks are shelling everything on their way," Abu Akeel said. "They have shelled houses. Now they are shelling a mosque where hundreds of people are hiding. We can't rescue anyone because the shelling is so heavy."
A doctor in Zawiyah said that at least 30 people, mostly civilians, had been killed during fighting yesterday, bringing to 60 the death toll from two days of battles for control of the coastal town.


Some officials in Benghazi's nascent organising committee hailed the fall of the strategically important town as an important landmark in an eventual push towards Tripoli.


However rebel commanders urged caution, insisting they must consolidate their gains before trying to advance. They point out that Sirte, further up the highway and in the hands of Gaddafi's troops, remains impassable.


After a fortnight of clashes, there are signs the battle for control of Libya is approaching a stalemate.
In an apparent softening of earlier declarations, leaders of the revolt said talk of a push on Tripoli was premature. Some went as far as to suggest that unless international moves are made to keep Gaddafi's air force out of the skies, the push would not take place.

Gaddafi has so far made only limited use of his 250 fighter jets in an apparent bid to reduce the risk of international intervention in the conflict. 


Establishing a no-fly zone would shift the balance of power and allow rebels to advance.



The Observer saw bombing runs near rebel positions on the outskirts of Brega last week. 


Witnesses said that jets also bombed targets in Ras Lanuf on Saturday and an attack helicopter fired on rebel-held areas. 

However, most of the bombs appear to have fallen short – a result that some rebel leaders say is deliberate.



 "He is playing with us," said Major Ibrahim Fatouri in Benghazi. "This is the one time in recent years that he has cared what the world thinks of him. 




When you are tired of watching, the pilots will start hitting targets.