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Tribes vow to fight on as government forces withdraw from Misrata

Tribes loyal to Muammar Gaddafi say they will trying to oust rebels from the city, as official forces pull back.

A Libyan rebel fighter fires his weapon through a hole in a wall during battle with pro-Gadhafi troops in the besieged city of Misrata.
A Libyan rebel fighter fires his weapon through a hole in a wall during battle with pro-Gadhafi troops in the besieged city of Misrata.
Image: AP

TRIBES LOYAL TO Muammar Gaddafi have pledged to continue fighting against rebel forces in the Libyan city of Misrata, as the official government forces began to withdraw from the city.

The indication that government forces were preparing to flee came as the United States began flying unmanned drones into the area, supplementing NATO airstrikes in the rebel-held city.

The withdrawal has been seen as a boost to the anti-Gaddafi forces, given how Gaddafi’s own side had been pounding the city in the past weeks. The withdrawal is also fairly symbolic, given that Misrata lies just 120 miles east of the capital Tripoli.

The moves came with the explicit provision, however, that the government would allow loyalist factions to take up the fight against the rebels.

“The situation in Misrata… will be dealt with by the tribes around Misrata, and Misrata’s residents, and not by the Libyan army,” Xinhua quoted a government spokesman as saying.

The news was met by rebels flying the red, black and green tricolour from the top of many of the city’s taller buildings.

Gaddafi’s forces said they had come under fierce attack as they tried to retreat, the Guardian reported.

The government said, meanwhile, that a NATO raid on a parking lot in the centre of Tripoli had struck an area very close to Gaddafi’s own compound, killing three people.

About the author:

Gavan Reilly

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