UPDATE 4-Libyan troops defect near rebel-held Misrata-rebel

Sun Mar 13, 2011 12:06am GMT

* Rebel says 32 Gaddafi troops defect in mutiny

* Crack Khamis Brigade slowed down on edge of Misrata

(Updates number of defections, adds background)

By Mariam Karouny

RAS JDIR, Tunisia, March 12 (Reuters) - A crack Libyan brigade commanded by Muammar Gaddafi's son Khamis was slowed by a mutiny as it advanced on Misrata on Saturday, with 32 soldiers joining the rebels holding the city, a rebel there said. One defector was a general, said the rebel named Mohammed. The feared 32nd Brigade tried but failed earlier in the day to take Misrata, the last major rebel holdout in western Libya.

Stalled about 10-15 km south of the city, the brigade broke out in a fire-fight after dozens of troops balked at the idea of killing innocent civilians in the impending attack, rebel spokesman Gamal added.

"Exactly 32 (soldiers) joined the rebels today," Mohammed said. "They have been interrogated by the rebels."

The events could not be confirmed independently. Journalists have been prevented from reaching the city by the authorities.

Other government forces continued their push eastward, and officials took foreign journalists from Tripoli to the eastern oil town of Ras Lanuf to prove the government controlled it.   Continued...

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