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article imageLibyan rebels take control of airport in Misurata

By Steven Z.K. Nickels     May 12, 2011 in World
Misratah - Libyan rebel forces have captured the airport in Misurata, a key city in western Libya. The city has been been in range of Qaddafi forces artillery and rocket attacks since the rebels captured much of the rest of the city last month.
The rebel forces captured the airport in the western Libya city of Misurata on Wednesday, driving pro-Qaddafi forces several miles back from the city that has been essentially under siege since last month. The rebels are now preparing for continued advances towards Tripoli and hope to drive back any counter-attack that Qaddafi forces might attempt on Misurata.
Rebel forces had driven Qaddafi's troops out of most of the city, which is Libya's third largest, last month forcing them to dig in at the Misurata airport. The city also remained within artillery and rocket range of the Qaddafi forces and residents had largely remained in cover for several weeks as shelling continued while the rebels attempted to consolidate their positions within the city and prepare for an assault on the airport.
Misurata had seen house-to-house fighting and intense shelling by Qaddafi forces and artillery in April when the rebels successfully drove most of the troops out of the main areas of the city. The Qaddafi troops had established positions at the airport, hoping to keep a toe-hold on the city until a counter-attack could possibly take back the city.
A spokesman for the National Transitional Council (TNC) in Benghazi confirmed to Agence France Press that the airport has been captured.
The capture of Misurata is both a strategic victory and boost to the morale of the rebel forces and Libyan's wanting to be rid of Qaddafi and his government. The city gives the TNC, which now claims to be the legitimate government of Libya, a key city in western Libya and a step closer to the capital city of Tripoli.
Following the airport's capture, Misurata residents flowed into the streets in celebration of the news. Chants of "God is Great" could be heard throughout the city.
Attempts to contact the Libyan Transitional National Council, which now has established a web site, Facebook and Twitter accounts, were unsuccessful.
More about Libya, Rebels, Gaddafi, Misurata, Middle East
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