Libyan rebels regroup and advance on Bin Jawad

Sun Mar 6, 2011 3:48pm GMT

ROAD TO BIN JAWAD, Libya (Reuters) - Rebels in east Libya regrouped on Sunday and advanced on Bin Jawad after forces loyal to Muammar Gaddafi ambushed rebel fighters and ejected them from the town earlier in the day.

"We are just outside Bin Jawad. There are thuds of mortars landing near rebel positions, leaving puffs of smoke, and also the sound of heavy machineguns in the distance," Reuters correspondent Mohammed Abbas said by telephone.

"There's a steady stream of rebels heading back west towards Bin Jawad," he said. The town is on the road to Gaddafi's hometown of Sirte, which the rebels intend to attack.

Rebels captured Bin Jawad, 160 km (100 miles) from Sirte, on Saturday but withdrew, which let army units occupy houses and mount an ambush that forced rebels back to Ras Lanuf.

One fighter, returning wounded from Bin Jawad to rebel-held Ras Lanuf further east, said Gaddafi loyalists had ambushed advancing rebels with machineguns and rocket-propelled grenades.

Asked what he had seen, he replied: "Death." Distraught and bandaged, he would not say any more.

In the rebel-held city of Benghazi, a source in the rebel movement said rebels had captured "some British special forces" who were "safe and in good hands". Earlier, Britain's defence minister said a UK diplomatic team was in Benghazi.

"It's real fierce fighting, like Vietnam," rebel fighter Ali Othman told Reuters of the earlier ambush at Bin Jawad. "Every kind of weapon is being used. We've retreated from an ambush and we are going to regroup."

"Gaddafi's forces attacked with aircraft and shot from on top of the houses," said Ibrahim Boudabbous, a fighter who took part in the rebel advance.   Continued...

<p>A gunman opposed to leader Muammar Gaddafi carries ammunition in the centre of the city of Zawiyah, 50 km (30 miles) west of the capital Tripoli, March 5, 2011. Libyan government forces launched a second attack on the western town of Zawiyah on Saturday after rebels drove them out in a morning of fierce fighting, while in the east, opponents of Muammar Gaddafi pushed towards his home town. REUTERS/Ahmed Jadallah (LIBYA - Tags: CIVIL UNREST POLITICS)</p>
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