Libyan rebels target Gadhafi’s birthplace.
TRIPOLI – Libyan opposition fighters continued their march west Monday with a key target in their sights: Sirte, Moammar Gadhafi’s birthplace, CNN informs. Taking the city would be a symbolic victory for the rebels, who regained control of several significant towns over the weekend as coalition airstrikes continued in the North African nation. Rebel forces claimed to control Ras Lanuf on Sunday. The opposition also appeared to have taken control of the key oil town of al-Brega. Victories in those cities marked a comeback for the ragtag group of amateur soldiers who are unified by one mission: toppling Gadhafi’s nearly 42-year rule.
Rebels said the fight to take over Sirte could be their toughest and bloodiest battle yet.
They credited coalition airstrikes with helping them regain ground, noting that they had encountered little resistance as they headed westward over the weekend. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov countered that claim Monday, telling reporters in Moscow that the coalition’s actions seemed to expand beyond the U.N. resolution’s scope. On Sunday, ambassadors from 28 NATO member countries held a special meeting in Brussels and decided to implement all aspects of the UN resolution on Libya, paving the way for NATO to take over full command of the military operation against Libya from the United States, Xinhua reports.
“NATO allies have decided to take on the whole military operation in Libya under the United Nations Security Council resolution,” NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen announced after the meeting. “Our goal is to protect civilians and civilian-populated areas under threat of attack … NATO will implement all aspects of the UN resolution. Nothing more, nothing less,” the NATO chief said.