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Mar 31, 2011, 06.59 PM IST | Source: PTI

Libyan forces recapture Brega; NATO takes full command

Pro-Gaddafi forces today kept up the momentum of their advances recapturing another key town of Brega, whose fall brought the major oil producing region back under the government control as NATO finally took full command of operations in the strife-torn country.

Libyan forces recapture Brega; NATO takes full command

Pro-Gaddafi forces today kept up the momentum of their advances recapturing another key town of Brega, whose fall brought the major oil producing region back under the government control as NATO finally took full command of operations in the strife-torn country.

68-year-old Muammar Gaddafi''s tanks and rocket launchers stormed into Brega after rebels retreated from the town without a fight amid reports that the government forces were driving around and shooting at people.

As the rebels were pressed hard by government forces, British and allied warplanes bombed Libyan tanks, armoured vehicles and surface-to-air missile sites at the key western city of Misruta, which has been under siege for almost two weeks.

The British air force spokesman in London said a number of tanks and missile sites had been hit and destroyed.

While confirming that NATO had taken over the full command of operations in Libya from the US, the alliance's Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said in Stockholm that he did not agree with the US and British suggestions of arming the rebels against Gaddafi''s forces.

"We are there to protect the Libyan people, not to arm the people," he said.
In the first defection by a key Gaddafi aide to the West, Foreign Minister Moussa Koussa arrived unexpectedly in Britain, whose Foreign Secretary William Hague declared that the Libyan regime was "crumbling from within".

"His (Koussa''s) resignation shows that Gaddafi''s regime, which has already seen significant defections to the opposition, is fragmented, under pressure and crumbling from within," Hague said as the Libyan leader was being questioned after his arrival.

But in a surprise move, Hague asserted that the Libyan leader was not being offered immunity from British or international justice.

Koussa is one of the most senior figures in Gaddafi's government and his role was to represent the regime internationally, but during questioning he said that he was no longer willing to represent Gaddafi.

BBC said the Libyan Foreign Minister arrived in the UK on what is believed to have been a British military plane.

However, a British foreign office spokesperson said, Koussa who is in early 60s, had arrived in Farnborough airport, west of London, last night.

"He told us that he has resigned his post and had come from Tunisia where he had crossed over two days back," the spokesperson said.

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