Politics | Human rights
Libya rebels shoot down fighter jets
afrol News, 17 March - Sources in Benghazi insist that three pro-Ghaddafi fighter jets were shot down today. In an attempt to bomb the city, the jets had to fly low and were downed.
Ghaddafi jets bombing rebel forces in Ras Lanuf
|© Anonymous/afrol News|
Several reports from the Libyan rebel headquarter in Benghazi insist that one jet, flown by pilots still loyal to the Ghaddafi regime, was shot down this morning as it tried to bomb the city.
Later today, the same sources say, Benghazi was again attacked from the air by pro-Ghaddafi forces. As a dense cloud hung over the city, the jets had to fly very low, exposing them to rebel fire. Two more fighter jets were subsequently shut down.
Sources in the rebel government in Benghazi say that pro-Ghaddafi fighter jet for the second day had tried to attack and bomb the rebel-held Benina International Airport, located just outside of the city.
The Benghazi airport houses several military aircraft, said to be relatively antiquated, under control of the "Free Libyan Air Force". Rebel pilots earlier this week had been able to sink three military ships bombing the strategic city of Ajdabiya, located south of Benghazi.
The downing of at least two of the pro-Ghaddafi aircrafts has been confirmed by several sources in Benghazi, including the rebel government and civilians, observing how the fighter jets caught fire, exploded and hit the ground "in a plume of smoke."
On the ground, the frontline today seems to remain around the city of Ajdabiya, with an estimated 120,000 inhabitants, many of which have evacuated the city. While pro-Ghaddafi troops on Libyan state TV claim to have taken the key city, rebels today have documented they are still in control and are engaging pro-Ghaddafi troops.
Reports of a fast pro-Ghaddafi advance eastwards, such a propagated by Libyan state TV and the Ghaddafi family, today proved to be strongly exaggerated. The rebels have seen major victories in their fight against the regime's much better equipped forces.
Several tanks conquered from pro-Ghaddafi troops in Ajdabiya have been put into battle, strongly aiding the rebels in stopping the regime's advance towards Benghazi. Also, the rebels are increasingly using air and marine forces in their defence.
But the battle of Ajdabiya still is critical for the survival of the rebel movement. The one controlling Ajdabiya controls the access roads to both Benghazi and Tobruk; the latter located at the Egyptian border. A regime victory in Ajdabiya thus would leave the way open for an attack on Benghazi and cut supply routes from Egypt.
The Benghazi-based rebels therefore still hope for international action to stop the Ghaddafi advance; especially a no-fly zone over Libya and a marine blockade. The UN Security Council is widely expected to give into these demands later today, with international military action against the Ghaddafi regime able to start immediately.
By staff writers
© afrol News
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