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Rebels start to surround Gadhafi in capital
Key interrogator of activists flees
Libyan rebels advanced on the capital, Tripoli, from the west on Monday, threatening to encircle dictator Moammar Gadhafi, who also had another top aide flee his crumbling regime.
In Washington, the White House cheered the rebel offensive, while the State Department confirmed reports that resistance leaders were holding talks with Gadhafi’s envoys in Tunisia. The rebels denied having any role in the talks.
They seized control of the western towns of Sabratha, Surman and Gharyan, the latter a mountain town 50 miles west of Tripoli that sits on the supply route between the Libyan capital and the southern part of the country. Fierce battles were being fought at Ras Adjir on the Tunisian border, which is located on another key supply route between Tunisia and Tripoli.
The regime waged a fierce battle for Zawiyah early in the uprising, and residents at the time described a massacre by pro-Gadhafi forces. Entire city blocks were razed.
On Monday, U.S. defense officials told wire-service reporters on condition of anonymity that Col. Gadhafi had begun using his arsenal of Scud missiles. American forces detected a Scud launch Sunday - the first of the Libyan civil war and a potentially significant escalation. The officials said the missile landed in the desert 50 miles from the key oil port of Brega, causing no apparent casualties.
In Misrata, Libya’s third-largest city, rebels pushed east toward Zlitan and were confident that they would seize Brega within days. The rebels took control of the eastern half of Libya early in the uprising, which began in February, but have not been able to push west past Col. Gadhafi’s tribal stronghold Sirte.
“I think what we are seeing is an effort by the rebels to choke off the access routes into Tripoli and to up the pressure on Gadhafi,” she told reporters at a press briefing in Washington.
Meanwhile, Nasr al-Mabrouk Abdullah, a former interior minister who played a key role in the interrogation of pro-democracy activists, fled to Cairo with nine members of his family.
While most media reports described Mr. Abdullah as an interior minister, Libyan sources told The Times that he left that post several years ago. More recently, Mr. Abdullah had been in charge of interrogating detained activists.
© Copyright 2013 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
About the Author
Ashish Kumar Sen is a reporter covering foreign policy and international developments for The Washington Times.
Prior to joining The Times, Mr. Sen worked for publications in Asia and the Middle East. His work has appeared in a number of publications and online news sites including the British Broadcasting Corp., Asia Times Online and Outlook magazine.
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