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Tuesday, August 16, 2011

LIBYAN RESISTANCE: Gaddafi isolated as rebels advance, aide flies to Cairo!

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By Leila Fadel, / Published: August 15.

CAIRO — A top Libyan security official apparently defected Monday, deepening the isolation for Moammar Gaddafi as a rebel advance threatened to place a stranglehold on the Libyan capital, Tripoli.

Gaddafi, who has kept his grip on power amid a six-month-long rebel uprising and nightly NATO bombing raids, finds himself at perhaps the most precarious point of his nearly 42-year reign.

Rebel leaders said that over the weekend they had wrested control of the strategic coastal city of Zawiyah, which lies between Tripoli and the Tunisian border. Even as Gaddafi loyalists fought back in Zawiyah on Monday, the rebels claimed to have captured two nearby towns, putting within their reach the coastal road that has become the capital’s most important lifeline.

“If that road is cut off, then Tripoli is slowly going to be strangled to death,” said George Joffe, a Libya expert at Cambridge University. “This may be the beginning of a prolonged fight. ... It’s not yet the killer blow.”

Gaddafi, the Arab world’s longest-ruling autocrat, has vowed to fight until the death. He and his loyalists have showed remarkable resiliency and ruthlessness in combating a rebel force that controls the eastern half of the country as well as the mountainous region to Tripoli’s southwest.

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