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Libya rebels taking initiative in west: Nato

Libyan rebels appear to have taken the initiative in the western Libya but Muammar Gaddafi forces are regrouping and rearming, Nato said on Thursday, on day two of an opposition offensive.

world Updated: Jul 07, 2011 19:46 IST

Libyan rebels appear to have taken the initiative in the western Libya but Muammar Gaddafi forces are regrouping and rearming, Nato said on Thursday, on day two of an opposition offensive.

Rebel and regime forces have fought in and around the western towns of Kikla, Nalut, Zintan and Yefren, all of which are under the control of the opposition, said Wing Commander Mike Bracken.

"Anti-Gaddafi forces look to have the initiative and are able to launch successful attacks against pro-Gaddafi forces," Bracken said via videolink from the Nato operation's headquarters in Naples, Italy.

"Progress is significant and Nato will see this mission through," he said. "Our measurement of success is the removal of threats to the Libyan people."

Nato warplanes have destroyed more than 60 regime military targets in the western Berber highlands and Nafusa mountains over the past week, he said.

But he said Gaddafi forces still hold two cities west of Tripoli, Zawiyah and Zuwarah, and are "rearming, regrouping and fighting in places such as Kikla, Misrata and Dafnia."

"Gaddafi has proved by continuing to field his forces and indiscriminately shelling civilians that his intent has not diminished," Bracken said.

"If Nato was to step away, Gaddafi's intent to harm civilians would remain and thousands of lives would be put at risk."