For the past several days, it has looked like Qaddafi’s forces have been gaining momentum. I now doubt that the dictator is going out any time soon. From the Times:
With tanks, helicopters and fighter planes, troops loyal to Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi attacked rebel troops in the coastal town of Bin Jawwad on Sunday and pushed them east, stalling, for the moment, hopes by the antigovernment fighters of a steady march toward Tripoli.
By Monday, rebel forces said they were seeking to regroup but needed reinforcements, according to Mohamad Samir, an army colonel fighting with the rebels, as quoted by The Associated Press. News reports on Monday said there had been a new air attack on the rebels at Ras Lanuf, where they had withdrawn after Sunday’s counteroffensive by loyalist forces.
The loyalist attack on Bin Jawwad began at about 9 a.m. on Sunday, said rebel fighters, who had to retreat down the main coastal road under a barrage of artillery shells, missiles and sniper bullets. Outgunned, the rebels fanned out in the desert and fought back, only to be forced to retreat again.
By 9 p.m., the road east from the city was full of fleeing rebel cars, including several pickup trucks mounted with heavy weapons. More than a dozen ambulances, ferrying wounded and dead rebel fighters, sped toward a hospital in a nearby town. Ambulance drivers and doctors said at least 10 people had been killed, though they expected that number to rise once they were able to reach Bin Jawwad.