March 8, 2011 / 9:29 AM / 9 years ago

Libya east-west frontline static, say rebels

BREGA, Libya, March 8 (Reuters) - Forces loyal to Muammar Gaddafi and rebels from east Libya faced off on Tuesday in a stretch of barren coastline near key oil terminals about 550 km (340 miles) east of Tripoli, rebel fighters said.

Rebels had said on Monday that Gaddafi’s forces dug in their tanks outside the town of Bin Jawad, which they had recaptured, while rebels retreated to Ras Lanuf and set up their their forward checkpoint just outside that oil town.

The two towns are about 60 km (40 miles) apart.

A rebel source said he had reports that Gaddafi’s forces launched an air strike on Tuesday on Ras Lanuf, after several attacks the day before. The blast from one of Monday’s attacks hit a car with a family and witnesses said one man may have died.

“Our last checkpoint is still in the same place. We’ve launched some forward attacks though. Es Sider is in our control. Gaddafi’s forces haven’t moved either,” rebel fighter Hussam al-Rammahi told Reuters.

Another rebel, Adel Yahya, said: “We’re about 10-15 km (6-10 miles) out from Ras Lanuf where the Es Sider oil company is. We’re in control there.”

Es Sider, like other towns along the coast such as Ras Lanuf, Zueitina and Brega, has an oil terminal. Es Sider lies right in the frontline area, and it was not immediately possible to independently confirm the presence of rebels there.

Oil sources said on Monday that Ras Lanuf and Brega ports were not working due to the violence. (Reporting by Mohammed Abbas, Writing by Edmund Blair in Cairo; Editing by Giles Elgood)

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