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Gaddafi forces take oil town of Brega: Libyan TV

Forces are swiftly advancing on poorly equipped, loosely organised rebels.

Updated: Mar 13, 2011, 20:45 PM IST

Benghazi: Libyan state television reported on Sunday that forces loyal to Muammar Gaddafi have retaken the oil town of Brega in eastern Libya, swiftly advancing on the poorly equipped and loosely organised rebels.

The report could not immediately be verified. Libyan TV has issued faulty reports claiming territory in the past.

Gaddafi’s forces pushed the front line miles deeper into rebel territory Saturday to just 25 miles (40 kilometres) outside Brega, the site of a major oil terminal. Sunday`s report declared the city has been "cleansed from armed gangs”.

The rebels have seen a string of defeats in recent days — a major setback for opposition forces who just a week ago held the entire eastern half of the country and were charging toward the capital, Tripoli.

The rebels have called for a no-fly zone, saying they are no match for the Gaddafi regime`s fighter jets. On Saturday, the Arab League asked the UN Security Council to impose a no-fly zone, increasing pressure on the US and other Western powers to take action that most have expressed deep reservations about.

In surprisingly swift action and aggressive language, the 22-member Arab bloc said after an emergency meeting that the Libyan government had "lost its sovereignty”. It asked the United Nations to "shoulder its responsibility ... to impose a no-fly zone over the movement of Libyan military planes and to create safe zones in the places vulnerable to airstrikes."

Western diplomats have said Arab and African approval was necessary before the Security Council voted on imposing a no-fly zone, which would be imposed by NATO nations to protect civilians from air attack by Gaddafi`s forces.

The US and many allies have expressed deep reservations about the effectiveness of a no-fly zone, and the possibility it could drag them into another messy conflict in the Muslim world.

Outside the rebel stronghold of Benghazi deep in opposition territory, Al-Jazeera cameraman Ali Hassan al-Jaber was killed in what the pan-Arab satellite station described as an ambush.

Correspondent Baybah Wald Amhadi said the crew`s car came under fire from the rear as it returned from an assignment south of Benghazi. Al-Jaber was shot three times in the back and a fourth bullet hit another correspondent near the ear and wounded him, Amhadi said.

"Even areas under rebel control are not totally safe," he said. "There are followers, eyes or fifth columns, for Colonel Gaddafi."

On Saturday, a resident reported fighting between government forces and rebels inside Gaddafi’s territory in Misrata, Libya`s third-largest city, 125 miles (200 kilometres) southeast of Tripoli.

Bureau Report