Thursday Aug 16, 201202:50 PM GMT
Battle for Libya's Benghazi looms large
Libyan government soldiers celebrate at the west gate of town Ajdabiyah on March 16, 2011.
Libyan government soldiers celebrate at the west gate of town Ajdabiyah on March 16, 2011.
Thu Mar 17, 2011 5:56AM
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Fighting between forces loyal to Libyan ruler Muammar Gaddafi and opposition forces has intensified as regime troops are pushing closer to the revolutionaries' main stronghold, Benghazi.

The battle for control of Benghazi looked just hours away on Thursday after the Libyan army ordered people to leave opposition-held locations and arms storage areas, Reuters reported.

However, Benghazi residents said the army's order was a psychological warfare and that the city was quiet.

The International Committee of the Red Cross has withdrawn from Benghazi, located in eastern Libya. The organization said it feared an attack by forces loyal to beleaguered Gaddafi may be imminent.

Earlier, the 68-year-old Gaddafi said his troops will fight a decisive battle on Wednesday and Thursday to capture the northwestern city of Misratah from opposition forces.

"The battle starts today (Wednesday) at Misrata (the country's third city) and tomorrow, that will be the decisive battle," said the Libyan ruler.

Meanwhile, it is not yet clear if the port city of Ajdabiyah, seen as a gateway to the city of Benghazi, has fallen to the regime troops. According to medical sources, at least 26 people have so far been killed in the city since Tuesday.

This comes as the UN Security Council has reportedly reached an agreement on the text of a draft resolution on a no-fly zone over troubled Libya. The council is set to meet again on Thursday to discuss the text.

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