Rebels Edge Into Gadhafi's Birthplace Rebels in eastern Libya are nearing one of the last remaining Gadhafi strongholds outside Tripoli: the Libyan leader's birthplace, Sirte, on the Mediterranean coast. It's unclear whether the city will surrender, but the rebels have gained ground nearby in recent days, capturing the oil port of Ras Lanuf, just over 100 miles east of Sirte. Melissa Block talks to NPR's Soraya Nelson for more.
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Rebels Edge Into Gadhafi's Birthplace

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Rebels Edge Into Gadhafi's Birthplace

Rebels Edge Into Gadhafi's Birthplace

Rebels Edge Into Gadhafi's Birthplace

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Rebels in eastern Libya are nearing one of the last remaining Gadhafi strongholds outside Tripoli: the Libyan leader's birthplace, Sirte, on the Mediterranean coast. It's unclear whether the city will surrender, but the rebels have gained ground nearby in recent days, capturing the oil port of Ras Lanuf, just over 100 miles east of Sirte. Melissa Block talks to NPR's Soraya Nelson for more.

ROBERT SIEGEL, Host:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel.

MELISSA BLOCK, Host:

Soraya, what is the latest you've heard about fighting along the coast where you are?

SORAYA SARHADDI NELSON: Well, we were able to make it all the way to Ras Lanuf. This is, of course, an important town because there's a refinery there. And that is where we were stopped. The front was about 30 miles from there and what's happening is Gadhafi forces are in a town called - or on the other side of a town called Bin Jawad and they were apparently shelling and rocketing toward Ras Lanuf. So that road was no longer safe and the rebels would not let us move any closer.

BLOCK: You mentioned the refinery there in Ras Lanuf, Soraya, and that's key here. That's why this area is so highly contested that there are these oil installations there.

SARHADDI NELSON: But nevertheless, at this stage, they feel very strongly that they have taken this place for good.

BLOCK: Soraya, what was the scene as you drove along these areas along the Mediterranean coast. What did you see?

SARHADDI NELSON: And in Brega, we saw petrol tanks or gas tanks that were actually on fire and it was unclear if they had been shelled or what, but they were burning.

BLOCK: Soraya, what about the civilian population in these areas that have been so heavily fought over?

SARHADDI NELSON: And they're very determined to come back and heed the transitional council's calls to come in and help repair, help rebuild, so that they can get the refineries going. Gas is very difficult to come by here, as we discovered today. We were basically stopping friends of the driver and then putting fuel from their tank into our tank just so we could make it back to Ajdabiya.

BLOCK: Okay, Soraya. Stay safe. Thanks very much.

SARHADDI NELSON: You're welcome.

BLOCK: That's NPR's Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson, reporting from eastern Libya.

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