Qaddafi’s Army and Jets Strike at Rebels
By KAREEM FAHIM and DAVID D. KIRKPATRICK
BENGHAZI, Libya — Colonel Muammar el-Qaddafi’s forces struck back on three fronts on Monday, using fighter jets, special forces units and regular army troops in an escalation of hostilities that brought Libya closer to civil war.
The attacks by the colonel’s troops on an oil refinery in central Libya and on cities on either side of the country unsettled rebel leaders — who earlier had claimed they were close to liberating the country — and showed that despite defections by the military, the government still possessed powerful assets, including fighter pilots willing to bomb Libyan cities.
But the ease with which at least one assault, on the western city of Zawiyah, was repelled by anti-government forces raised questions about the ability of the government to muster a serious challenge to the rebels’ growing power.
An international campaign to force Colonel Qaddafi from power gathered pace on Monday as the Obama administration announced it had seized $30 billion in Libyan assets and the European Union adopted an arms embargo and other sanctions. As the Pentagon began repositioning Navy warships to support a possible humanitarian or military intervention, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton bluntly told the Libyan leader to surrender power “now, without further violence or delay.” …
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