Elias Hj Idris
By Daily Mail Reporter (10th March 2011 - 11.16 p.m)

Colonel Gaddafi's forces today blasted an oil terminal to smithereens as Libya's bloody civil war entered its blackest day. Rebels retaliated by firing back with rockets as a fireball exploded from one of the oil tanks and the sky above the Es Sider terminal, in the east of the country, filled with hideous smoke.

A witness said one of the smoke plumes was the biggest he had seen in the conflict so far. The fresh onslaught came as Gaddafi deployed tanks and snipers to 'shoot anything that moves'. Forces loyal to the Libyan dictator poured into the city of Zawiyah in a desperate bid to oust the hardcore band of protesters and army defectors who have taken control.

Black clouds: Libyan rebels attack government troops as
a natural gas facility burns on the frontline near Ras Lanuf

There have been bloody battles between
pro and anti-Gaddafi forces in the area for days

Fighters run for cover as shells explode near them
a few miles outside the oil town of Ras Lanuf

Members of a BBC news team were detained and beaten up by soldiers loyal to Gaddafi as they tried to reach the war-torn western city of Zawiya. The three men were punched, kicked and clubbed with rifles before they were hooded and subjected to mock executions by soldiers and secret police, it emerged last night.

In all they were held prisoner for 21 hours and were finally released on Monday when they fled the country. One of the team, Chris Cobb-Smith, said: “We were lined up against the wall. I was the last in line - facing the wall.

'I looked and I saw a plain-clothes guy with a small sub-machine gun. He put it to everyone’s neck. I saw him and he screamed at me.

'Then he walked up to me put the gun to my neck and pulled the trigger, twice, the bullets whisked past my ear. The soldiers just laughed.'

A second member of the team - Feras Killani, a correspondent of Palestinian descent - is said to have been singled out by their captors for the worst of the violence, while the third member of the team, cameraman Goktay Koraltan, told BBC Ten O’Clock News that he was convinced they were all going to die.Witnesses said dead bodies were lying in the ruins of many buildings destroyed in air raids earlier in the week and there was no one in the streets of the centre of the city of 290,000.

'We can see the tanks. The tanks are everywhere,' one rebel fighter said by telephone.

Eye witnesses said that the city had been almost flattened after a 13-and-a-half hour barrage from rockets, tanks and war planes. The hellish scenes unfolded as senior officials in the U.S. spoke of their fears that the country had reached a painful stalemate.

Senior officials believe that Gaddafi has solidified his control over some cities but ant-government protesters have a strong enough hold on other regions to remain locked in the stand off.

As the standoff continues and hundreds of more lives continue to be lost, it has created a split in the U.S. government about whether to take military action. The Obama intervention is still looking at options for intervention while the European Union is preparing to impose stricter sanctions on the Libya government, including an asset freeze.

'What we're looking at right now—and things can change on a dime in these kinds of fluid conflicts—is basically a stalemate in certain parts of Libya,' another U.S. official told the Wall Street Journal.

'Gaddafi has solidified his control of some areas while the rebels have the upper hand in other places.'

Anti-Gaddafi rebels walk under a pall of smoke and flamesrising from a fuel storage depot, struck during fighting against government forces in Sedra, eastern Libya

Smoke from burning oil fields in Ras Lanuf engulfs the sky

He added that Libyan forces now look stronger and more cohesive than they did several days ago when revolutionary zeal was at its peak.

The new assessment on the North African country came after repeated calls from Britain and the U.S. for Gaddafi to relinquish power. Britain 'unable to patrol no-fly zone over Libya' because we have not got enough planes anymore, say experts.

‘Bullets whisked past my ear, the soldiers just laughed’: British journalists held and tortured by Gaddafi troops.
Earlier today, there were reports that three private jets owned by Gaddafi had left Libya for Vienna, Athens and Egypt.

Greek officials said they spotted one Libyan Airlines Falcon 900 jet as it briefly entered airspace for around 15 minutes earlier this morning.

Libyan rebels look at a smoke rising from
an oil pipe just outside the town of Ras Lanuf

Fighters break off from firing rockets
as they watch plumes of smoke rising from the blasted oil pipe

A rebel fighter fires an anti-aircraft
weapon in front of the burning has terminal

The sightings prompted speculation that Gaddafi or members of his family have fled the country. However, it later emerged that one aircraft had landed in Egypt carrying the head of the Libyan Authority for Supply and Logistics. Major-General Abdel Rahman Ben Ali al-Sayyid al-Zawy, was carrying a message from Gaddafi.

Last night, the increasingly crazed despot had given his fourth rambling TV interview since protests began on February 15.

A rebel fighter fires a rocket-propelled grenade launcher
during a battle on the road between Ras Lanuf and Bin Jawad

Rebel fighters show their aggression
as U.S today voiced concerns that the country has reached a painful stalemate

Returning to familiar themes, the Libyan leader said the rebels wanted to pave the way for a new colonial era that would allow Britain, France and the United States to divide up the country and control its oil wealth.

Making reference obliquely to unrest in the Arab world and elsewhere, he said: 'How can (Libyan) parents allow Tunisians, Egyptians, Algerians and Afghans to enrol your children?'

He said rebels were drug-addled youths and al Qaeda-backed terrorists, and said he would die in Libya rather than surrender. One of his sons said if Gaddafi bowed to pressure and quit, Libya would descend into civil war.

An anti-aircraft machine gun poised for action
as Gaddafi's troops bombs the oil pipe

Rebel fighters crouch on the grass near a burning gas storage terminal
 on the road between Ras Lanuf and Bin Jawad that was struck

A rebel fighter fires a rocket-propelled grenade launcher
during a battle on the road between Ras Lanuf and Bin Jawad today

He promised to fight any attempt to impose a no-fly zone on the country which he said would merely be an excuse by the West to seize Libya's oil deposits.

'If Al Qaeda seizes Libya, that will amount to a huge disaster,' Gaddafi said. 'If they (Al Qaeda fighters) take this place over, the whole region, including Israel, will be dragged into chaos,' he said.

'Then Bin Laden may seize all of north Africa that faces Europe.'

In the rebel-held stronghold of Benghazi, Libya's second city where the uprising started in mid-February, loudspeakers at the court house headquarters beseeched God to protect 'revolutionary fighters in Zawiyah'.


By: Tim Shipman

Britain will demand Nato backing for a no-fly zone today amid signs of a split with the American government and the head of the military alliance.

Defence Secretary Liam Fox will tell a summit of Nato chiefs today that the alliance needs to step up the speed of military planning and do more to prevent arms getting to the Gaddafi regime.
Downing Street last night said the UK would call for the arms embargo to more closely enforced and must be ‘ready to act’ if the bloodshed gets worse.

The diplomatic push came as fighting intensified in Libya yesterday. There were fierce battles for the town of Zawiyah, 30 miles to the West of the capital Tripoli.

All day it was claimed that Gaddafi’s forces were in charge of the town but late last night, rebels claimed they had re-taken it. Some 400 people are thought to have died there since the uprising began.

Three jets belonging to the Gaddafi family flew to Egypt, Brussels and Portugal amid diplomatic efforts to seek an end to the conflict. Today Dr Fox will press the case for the no-fly zone after both U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Nato Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen appeared cool to the idea.

Mrs Clinton said the White House thinks a UN Security Council resolution is needed to sanction an air exclusion zone.

‘It is important that the United Nations make that decision,’ she added.

Mr Rasmussen appeared even less enthusiastic when he said: ‘We’re not looking to intervene but we stand ready to assist if there is a proper legal basis. The imposition of a no-fly zone would…require a new UN mandate.’

Gaddafi claimed the Libyan people would take up arms if Western powers try to enforce a no-fly zone. In an interview with Turkish TV he said: ‘The Libyan people will see the truth – that what they want is to take control of Libya and to steal their oil.’

The body of a Benghazi man killed in fighting around the oil town of Ras Lanuf while fighting arrived from the front and his coffin was placed before the courthouse where about 400 people were gathered.

Women ululated, often done in celebrations. 'This is a kind of celebration, because he died in God's service,' said Faraj Saber, a business consultant, 48.

There was a protest of about 50 children in front of the courthouse, some with their mothers.

One of the children read a speech from the first floor window of the courthouse.

'Libya has always been fearless and determined in the eyes of her enemies,' the child said, adding:

'Libya flies its flag with pride and freedom in the face of darkness ... We will not surrender. We will die with honour.'

...staying during the conflict

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1364469/Gaddafi-blows-Libyas-oil-pipes-tanks-turned-civilians.html#ixzz1GEyQVwgM
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