Libyan Rebels Make Gains In Besieged City Of Misrata The Libyan city of Misrata has been the main battlefront for weeks, as rebels struggle to push back Moammar Ghadafi's forces. The rebel want to push back Ghadafi's men far enough away that their rockets can't hit Misrata's civilian population.
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Libyan Rebels Make Gains In Besieged City Of Misrata

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Libyan Rebels Make Gains In Besieged City Of Misrata

Libyan Rebels Make Gains In Besieged City Of Misrata

Libyan Rebels Make Gains In Besieged City Of Misrata

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The Libyan city of Misrata has been the main battlefront for weeks, as rebels struggle to push back Moammar Ghadafi's forces. The rebel want to push back Ghadafi's men far enough away that their rockets can't hit Misrata's civilian population.

RENEE MONTAGNE, host:

In Libya, rebels say they've made gains in the besieged port of Misrata. That city has been the main battlefront for weeks and today the fighting is fierce there as rebels try to push back Moammar Gadhafi's forces. NPR's Lourdes Garcia-Navarro is in the rebel stronghold of Benghazi and she has this report.

LOURDES GARCIA-NAVARRO:

After a bloody all-night battle, rebels in Misrata say they are now in control of that city's civilian airport. The airport has been the scene of fierce fighting for days now. Gadhafi's forces were holed up there, but the rebels say they've been routed.

The rebel aim has been to push back Gadhafi's men far enough away that their rockets can't hit Misrata's civilian population, but it's been a tough slog, with casualties streaming in. According to rebel sources in Misrata's hospital, yesterday five people were killed and 120 injured.

The rebels say they've also made progress on another front, breaking through one of the front lines surrounding Misrata. They now occupy a village about 15 miles outside of the city. It shows they have momentum, but for how long remains to be seen.

A delegation from the city is on its way to Qatar to ask for money to buy weapons and supplies. The Qatari government has been playing a key role in this uprising and has been a staunch supporter of the rebels. Rebel leaders say they expect the Qatari government to pledge a substantial sum.

The rebels in Misrata say are in desperate need of resupply. Yesterday a tugboat laden with weapons and fighters was delayed because of bad weather. The weapons on the boat had been looted from Gadhafi's old army arsenal. The arms are serviceable but hardly state-of-the-art.

While the fight in Misrata rages, NATO has been launching fierce attacks on the capital city of Tripoli, the most recent bombing raid lasting hours.

The rebel government here in Benghazi is hoping that Tripoli will rise up again against Gadhafi. But despite rumors of clandestine protests and gun battles in restive areas of the capital, the city remains under Gadhafi's control. However, Brother Leader has not been seen or heard from late last month, when a NATO bombing raid hit a house where purportedly he was visiting with one of his younger sons. The government in Tripoli says Gadhafi was unhurt, though the son and three grandchildren were killed.

No one knows where Gadhafi is right now. NATO says it's not deliberately targeting him. Still, the very fact that he has not put in an appearance for so long suggests he could be in hiding.

Lourdes Garcia-Navarro, NPR News, Benghazi.

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