ALBERTO PIZZOLI/AFP/Getty Images
North African refugees arrive at Lampedusa, Italy on March 30, 2011.
North African refugees arrive at Lampedusa, Italy on March 30, 2011. ALBERTO PIZZOLI/AFP/Getty Images
Rebels in Libya fighting troops loyal to Libyan leader Col. Moammar Gadhafi are losing ground, a day after an international conference voiced support for them.
Update at 6:35 p.m. ET. Major Blow To Gadhafi:
NPR's Philip Reeves reports from London that Libyan Foreign Minister Moussa Koussa's defection is a major blow to Gadhafi. Some, says Philip, would call him Gadhafi's right-hand man.
"Koussa has been the top of the system in Libya for years," Philip reports to the Newscast desk. He was the former head of intelligence, "who knows a great deal about the inner workings of Gadhafi's government."
Here's what Philip filed for Newscast:
Update at 5:03 p.m. ET. British Foreign Office: Libya's Foreign Minister Has Resigned:
The AP reports that Libya's Foreign Minister Moussa Koussa has arrived in Britain and is resigning from his post:
The Foreign Office says in a statement Wednesday Moussa arrived from Tunisia, and that he traveled here under his own free will. The statement says: "He has told us that he is resigning his post."
NPR's Lourdes Garcia-Navarro reports from Tripoli that a spokesman from the Libyan government denied an earlier report from Reuters that Moussa had defected. Lourdes reports the spokesman said Moussa was on a "diplomatic mission."
Reuters adds that the statement from a Foreign Office spokesman says that Koussa arrived at Farnborough Airport today:
"Koussa is one of the most senior figures in Gaddafi's government and his role was to represent the regime internationally — something that he is no longer willing to do," the spokesman said.
The British Foreign & Commonwealth Office has posted the full statement here.
Update at 2:25 p.m. ET. Key House Lawmaker Opposes Arming Opposition:
"The chairman of the U.S. House of Representatives' intelligence committee, Mike Rogers [R-MI], said on Wednesday that he opposes supplying arms to the Libyan rebels fighting Muammar Gaddafi 'at this time'," The Associated Press reports. " 'As we publicly debate next steps on Libya, I do not support arming the Libyan rebels at this time,' Rogers said in a statement. 'We need to understand more about the opposition before I would support passing out guns and advanced weapons to them.' "
Update at 8:45 a.m. ET. Uganda Says It Might Take Gadhafi: "Uganda said on Wednesday it would consider an application for asylum from Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, as it would for anyone seeking refuge in the east African country," Reuters reports. [Note: NPR follows Associated Press style on the spelling of Gadhafi's name. Reuters and other news outlets use other variations.]
Update at 8:29 a.m. ET. Rebels Retreat: NPR's Eric Westervelt is traveling in eastern Libya. He's with retreating rebels and he's finding what Lourdes Garcia-Navarro reported earlier: rebels want NATO to do more for them. They aren't well-trained and Eric says they're starting to fight among themselves.
Our original post:
Pro-Gadhafi fighters have reportedly re-taken the oil town of Ras Lanouf. NPR's Lourdes Garcia-Navarro tells NPR Newscasts Gadhafi's forces have the upper hand there. NATO planes are 'buzzing overhead'. The town is close to Bin Jawwad, the town the Washington Post says has changed hands four times. The towns lie on the North African coast between Tripoli, the capital controlled by Gadhafi, and Benghazi, the eastern town under rebel control.
Lourdes says rebels want NATO to step up its bombing:
Fresh from yesterday's international conference on Libya in London, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will brief some members of Congress about the Obama Administration's actions. NPR's Michele Kelemen tells Morning Edition the Secretary may face tough questions and still can't quite articulate what the end result might look like in Libya.
The United Nations says nearly 400,000 people have fled fighting in Libya. NPR's Sylvia Poggioli is on the tiny Italian island of Lampedusa, in the Mediterranean Sea. More than 6,000 Tunisian refugees arrived by boat and now hundreds, possibly thousands of Libyans are starting to show up. Sylvia reports there isn't enough food, water and toilets. Italian residents are enraged and Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi says he'll visit today to 'resolve the situation'.