LIBYA: The Rebels Take Back Ras Lanuf After Intense Battle

ras lanufRas Lanuf airport

15:36 ET: Now the rebels have taken back Ras Lanuf in an intense battle, reports CNN’s Ben Wedeman.

libya benghaziAn Al Jazeera correspondent reports gunfire in Benghazi

Wedeman says the professional soldiers are trying to shape the non-professional rebels into an organised militia with little success. But they’re obviously having success. Wedeman quotes one of the rebels: “We’ll capture [Qaddafi], put him on top of this car and drive all around #Libya. Every Libyan will get one shot.”

It’s nighttime in Libya and we assume today will end in stalemate.

See Incredible Pictures From The Libyan Civil War >
14:37 ET: Qaddafi’s forces just took back the Ras Lanuf airport, according to Reuters.

The airport had been captured by the rebels earlier. With this victory, the military has a near-clean sheet on today’s offensive.

libyaA defected soldier sits outsie Brega

Photo: ap

13:25 ET: There was just an airstrike on an arms depot near Benghazi, according to Al Jazeera.

A reporter in the rebel stronghold says there are sounds of gunfire around the city. This is the rebel stronghold, now full of aid workers and reporters, and there will be a crisis if it is attacked.

13:13 ET: A Libyan official says West Libya is totally in government hands but the east is “problematic”… (via Al Arabiya).

Brega is still in rebel hands and there’s fighting at Ras Lanuf.

libyaRebels prepare to defend Al Geila

12:18 ET: The rebels seem to be losing ground in Brega. A photographer from the front tells Al Jazeera: “The mood is very somber. The fighting continues, it doesn’t stop, the rebels might be turning around.”11:14 ET:¬† Libyan rebel leader Colonel Hassan Warbouk was killed in the battle of Zawiyah, according to Al Jazeera.

At least 30 people have been killed in Zawiyah.

chartCrude futures creep higher

10:29 ET: The civil war is escalating.

Qaddafi’s forces just retook the town of Zawiyah, near Tripoli, according to Al Arabiya. Before advancing, they heavily bombarded the city, causing many casualties.

The rebels have captured the Ras Lanuf airport, according to Reuters.

In Tripoli security forces dispersed protesters with tear gas. Supporters of both sides are brawling in Green Square, according to Reuters.

yemenA protest in Yemen

Photo: ap

9:35 ET: The hotly-contested oil facility outside Brega has been damaged and is on fire, according to Reuters.

And crude futures have crept up to $103.25.

7:16 ET: Rebels in Al Geila are setting up mounted guns in the direction of the next expected attack by Qaddafi’s militia, according to Al Jazeera.

PREVIOUSLY: It’s Friday in the Middle East, the first day of the weekend and yet another Day Of Rage in many countries.

Here’s the key ones to watch:

YEMEN: Protesters have rejected a so-called compromise plan with President Saleh and are taking to the streets in huge numbers. North Yemen rebels say the army bombed their protest  and shot and killed several protesters.

BAHRAIN: The first major outbreak of sectarian violence leaves several dead. In Bahrain sectarian violence is a proxy for anti-government protests, since the government is Sunni and most people are Shia.

LIBYA: Huge protests are planned in the Qaddafi-held capital of Tripoli. Qaddafi is deploying troops. Yesterday they were shooting anyone who dared protest in Tripoli. Meanwhile battles over eastern cities continue.

Plus there’s a big rally in Egypt, though it has been billed as a celebration since the prime minister resigned yesterday. Thousands rallying in Iraq again. Also keep your eye on the refugee crisis on the Tunisian border.

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