27 Mar 2011

Libyan rebels say they've captured town of Brega

9:33 pm on 27 March 2011

Libyan rebels say they have captured the coastal town of Brega from forces loyal to Colonel Muammar Gaddafi and that they're advancing toward the heartland of his support.

The claims come after the rebels took the eastern town of Ajdabiya on Saturday.

The rebels owe their military success to British and French air attacks on government armoured vehicles.

French fighter aircraft have destroyed five Libyan air force planes and two helicopters in an attack on Colonel Gaddafi's forces in Misrata reports the BBC.

A French spokesman said the aircraft were caught on the ground at Misrata air base preparing to launch attacks in the area of the rebel-held town.

France is one of the coalition countries enforcing a UN no-fly zone aimed at protecting civilians.

Libyan TV reported more air strikes overnight at Sabha in central Libya.

Libyan state television said military and civilian areas had been hit, but there was no independent confirmation.

The TV also said there had been air strikes near Colonel Gaddafi's power base of Sirte, on the Mediterranean coast east of Tripoli.

The rebellion against Colonel Gaddafi's four decades in power began in mid-February, inspired by uprisings in neighbouring Egypt and Tunisia which saw the leaders there overthrown.

The eastern towns along the coast had been lost one-by-one to advancing pro-Gaddafi forces before coalition airstrikes started last week.

Libyan officials said the strikes have killed nearly 100 civilians.

US Defence Secretary Robert Gates said there are intelligence reports that Colonel Gaddafi's forces have taken the bodies of people killed in their own attacks and placed them at the site of air strikes so they can blame the coalition for their deaths.