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Libyan rebels claim capture of Misrata airport

Libyan rebels claim to have made substantial gains against forces loyal to the country’s strongman Muammar Gaddafi, by capturing the airport in the city of Misrata.

Libyan rebels man a sniper position as they look out through nearly-closed shutters in Misrata.
Libyan rebels man a sniper position as they look out through nearly-closed shutters in Misrata.
Image: Ricardo Garcia Vilanova/AP/Press Association Images

LIBYAN REBELS HAVE captured the airport in the strategic city of Misrata, forcing troops loyal to Col Muammar Gaddafi to retreat, according to reports.

A Libyan rebel in the besieged western city of Misrata said that Gaddafi’s forces have been pushed back, leaving behind weapons and ammunition and relinquishing control of the airport to the rebels.

According to a rebel who identified himself as Abdel Salam, rebels were in total control of the airport in southern Misrata on Wednesday after two days of fighting. He said five rebels were killed and 105 injured.

“This is a major victory,” he said.

Misrata’s rebels also are pushing west, toward the nearby city of Zlitan.

The only rebel-held stronghold in western Libya, Misrata is the country’s third-largest city, about 125 miles (200 kilometers) southeast of Gadhafi’s capital, Tripoli.

Additional reporting by AP

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