Libyan Rebels Lose Ground To Gadhafi Forces Libyan rebels battling forces loyal to Moammar Gadhafi are falling back from the oil port of Brega in their latest setback. The momentum has remained with the pro-Gadhafi forces as fighter jets pound rebel positions. The Arab League Saturday called for a no-fly zone over Libya. As NPR's Peter Kenyon reports from rebel-held Benghazi, Saturday also saw the first death of a journalist in the conflict.
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Libyan Rebels Lose Ground To Gadhafi Forces

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Libyan Rebels Lose Ground To Gadhafi Forces

Libyan Rebels Lose Ground To Gadhafi Forces

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LIANE HANSEN, host:

This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Liane Hansen.

Libyan rebels battling forces loyal to Moammar Gadhafi are falling back from the oil port of Brega in their latest setback. The momentum has remained with pro-Gadhafi forces, as fighter jets pound rebel positions. The Arab League yesterday called for a no-fly zone over Libya.

As NPR's Peter Kenyon reports from rebel-held Benghazi, yesterday also saw the first death of a journalist in the conflict.

PETER KENYON: Al-Jazeera's evening news bulletin last night focused on one of its own.

Unidentified Man: (Foreign language spoken)

KENYON: The channel said Qatari cameraman Ali Hassan Jaber was killed when his car was attacked by unknown gunmen. The channel's director-general blamed what he called an unprecedented campaign against Al-Jazeera by Gadhafi.

In Cairo, the sometimes timid Arab League offered a clear show of support for the rebellion.

Unidentified Man: (Foreign language spoken)

Delegates said the protection of the civilian population was a top priority and called on the U.N. Security Council to approve a no-fly zone in Libyan airspace. The League also said it wants to open communications with the provisional government in Benghazi. Libyan envoys were excluded from the discussion.

In an address carried by Libyan state television, Gadhafi's son Saif had a blunt response.

Mr. SAIF GADHAFI: (Through Translator) To those Arab countries not supporting us, to hell with you, to hell with your media and to hell with the Arab League.

KENYON: Fighters and journalists near the frontlines reported the rebels retreating from Brega under the superior firepower of the pro-Gadhafi forces. The next town in rebel control is Ajdabiya and then Benghazi.

On the streets of Benghazi, 42-year-old Abdul Majid al-Abedi(ph) said he hopes a no-fly zone can be implemented quickly.

Mr. ABDUL MAJID AL-ABEDI: (Foreign language spoken)

KENYON: No, we don't want foreign troops here, he said, we want a no-fly zone, because that will allow the revolutionaries to advance and take out the Gadhafi forces.

Across from the courthouse, where the rebels have set up their provisional government, lawyers and judges in their black robes set up a tent yesterday. Attorney Ahmed Omar said they're here to share solidarity and in hopes that someday the courthouse will be theirs again when the revolution succeeds.

Mr. AHMED OMAR (Attorney): We are (unintelligible). We are going to get this back because we are out of work now.

KENYON: Omar points to the giant French flag hanging from the courthouse. He says French President Nicolas Sarkozy, who has suggested air strikes against Gadhafi's military is more Libyan than the Libyans, something he cannot say about President Obama.

Mr. OMAR: The flag of freedom, it has been always with the Americans. Where are they now, huh?

KENYON: The White House released a statement yesterday welcoming the Arab League's move and saying that the international community is unified in its message that the violence must stop.

As Gadhafi's planes, tanks and artillery push eastward, Libyans here wonder if the world will act in time.

Peter Kenyon, NPR News, Benghazi.

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