July 14, 2011 / 7:48 PM / in 7 years

FACTBOX-Latest developments in Libyan conflict

July 14 (Reuters) - Following are the latest political and military developments in the Libyan crisis.

* Libyan rebel fighters prepared for a new offensive south of Tripoli on Thursday but tactical errors raised new questions about whether they will be able to march on the capital.

* Rebel commanders in the village of Al-Qawalish, about 100 km (60 miles) from Tripoli, said they were massing their forces and preparing to advance east towards the town of Garyan, which controls access to the main highway into the capital.

* Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi’s government said it was halting cooperation with Italian oil firm ENI (ENI.MI).

* Gaddafi has ordered his troops to blow up refineries and other facilities if they have to retreat, Lieutenant General Charles Bouchard, the Canadian head of the NATO mission over Libya, said on Thursday.

* Bouchard said he was unable to confirm any plan by Gaddafi to demolish the capital Tripoli if the rebels captured it, as reported by Russian envoy Mikhail Margelov in the Russian newspaper Izvestia.

* Western powers and Arab states meeting in Istanbul on Friday will seek a political solution to end the civil war in Libya, amid conflicting signals over whether Gaddafi intends to fight on or surrender power.

* Britain is running short of military targets in Libya as the Gaddafi’s forces are increasingly using civilian infrastructure and vehicles, a defence ministry source said.

* China said it would skip a meeting in Turkey this week between Western powers, Arab governments and leaders of Libya’s opposition National Transitional Council, saying that the way the group worked needed “further study”.

* NATO said it conducted 130 air sorties on Wednesday, 50 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:

— One command and control node, one tank and four armed vehicles near Brega;

— Two command and control centers, one armoured fighting vehicle, one anti-aircraft gun, one artillery piece and one armed vehicle near Misrata;

— Six surface-to-air missle launchers near Tripoli;

— One military storage facility near Waddan;

— One command and control center near Waha.

* Since NATO took over command of air strikes on March 31, its aircraft have conducted 15,061 sorties, including 5,673 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, seven vessels were hailed to determine destination and cargo. One was boarded but it was not diverted.

A total of 1,750 vessels have been hailed, 165 boarded and nine diverted since the start of the arms embargo.

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