Gadhafi Loyalists Beat Back Rebels in Key Areas
Clashes increase as loyalists retake some areas
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 2, 2011 7:20 AM CST
Updated Mar 2, 2011 7:56 AM CST
Refugees from Bangladesh carry their suitcases after crossing the Libya-Tunisia border in Ras Ajdir, Tunisia, Wednesday, March 2, 2011.   (AP Photo/Giorgos Moutafis)
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(Newser) – Libyan protesters are fighting to keep control of the areas they've taken as they increasingly clash with pro-Gadhafi forces. The latest:

  • The two sides are fighting over a key oil installation and airstrip, the AP reports. They are located on the coast of eastern Libya, most of which is held by the rebels, but today Gadhafi supporters took back the oil facility as the rebels continued to fight. In the same area, pro-Gadhafi forces also retook control of a port and bombed an ammunition depot controlled by the rebels.
  • The bombing is one of many airstrikes launched by Libyan forces against the rebels, all of which reportedly target only weapons facilities. But some air force pilots have refused to fly after they claim they were ordered to bomb civilians.
  • Loyalists yesterday were able to push rebels back from some of the western towns near Tripoli, but protesters managed to hold onto Zawiyah, the city closest to the capital. Gadhafi's forces were able to reclaim control of two other towns near Tripoli and threaten a third, but rebels held on to three other areas near the capital.

  • Two US warships entered the Suez Canal this morning en route to the Mediterranean, the AP adds. Defense Secretary Robert Gates ordered the USS Kearsarge, which has 42 helicopters on board, and the USS Ponce to move closer to the Libyan coast.
  • Even so, Gates downplayed the possibility of America's military intervening, noting that it's not a good time for the US to enter into another Middle East war, the New York Times reports. He and Adm. Mike Mullen distanced themselves from comments by Hillary Clinton that a no-fly zone was an "active consideration." A BBC UN correspondent says other leaders also appear to be reluctant to impose a no-fly zone over Libya.
  • Meanwhile, the BBC reports, thousands of people are waiting to cross the border and flee Libya for Tunisia. The UN Secretary General says thousands of lives are at stake, and the UN wants a mass humanitarian evacuation. Click for background on this crisis.
  • More from the BBC: Reports suggest 1,000 have died in the unrest so far, and an overturned fuel tanker resulted in large explosions in Tripoli. No word on whether the tanker was sabotaged.
Click for the latest on Libya.