FACTBOX-Latest developments in Libyan conflict

Thu Jul 21, 2011 3:33pm GMT
 

July 21 (Reuters) - Following are the latest political and military developments in the Libyan crisis.

* Libyan rebels said a fierce counter-attack by forces loyal to Muammar Gaddafi had checked their gains on a frontline east of Tripoli on Thursday.

* A rebel spokesman in Zlitan, on the coast road 160 km (100 miles) east of the capital, said pro-Gaddafi forces backed by tanks had surrounded rebels who had seized the nearby town of Souk al-Thulatha the previous day.

* The state news agency JANA said officials met on Thursday to ensure food supplies such as barley, wheat and bananas "reach consumers as soon as possible before the start of Ramadan".

* Libyans using the state-run cellphone network said they had been receiving text messages this week calling on them to go and fight in the Western Mountains, the front closest to Tripoli. "The clock of action has struck. The time for cleansing has come. Today the Western Mountains will burn," ran a message sent on Thursday.

* Libya has become a new source of smuggled weaponry for Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, a senior Israeli official said on Thursday.

* Chinese President Hu Jintao told his South African counterpart, Jacob Zuma, on Thursday that China will work with the African Union in finding a solution to the Libyan crisis, state news agency Xinhua reported.

* NATO said it conducted 122 air sorties on Wednesday, 53 of them strike sorties that aim to identify and hit targets, but do not always deploy munitions.

* NATO said key targets hit on Wednesday included:

-- Two armed vehicles and one rocket launcher near Brega;

-- Two rocket launchers and three armed vehicles near Misrata;

-- Two surface-to-air-missile launchers and one radar near Tripoli;

-- One military storage facility near Waddan;

-- Two command and control nodes, four military storage facilities, five military facilities and two military refuelling areas near Zlitan.

* Since NATO took over command of air strikes on March 31, its aircraft have conducted 15,904 sorties, including 5,995 strike sorties. NATO members participating in air strikes in Libya include France, Britain, Canada, Denmark, Norway, Belgium, Italy and the United States.

* Seventeen ships under NATO command are patrolling the central Mediterranean Sea to enforce a U.N. arms embargo. On Wednesday, 16 vessels were hailed to determine destination and cargo. None were boarded.

A total of 1,839 vessels have been hailed, 179 boarded and nine diverted since the start of the arms embargo.

(Reporting by Alysha Love and David Brunnstrom) (Created by Maria Golovnina)

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