US official: Gaddafi forces still moving on Benghazi

National security official says troops loyal to Libyan gov't advancing toward rebel stronghold and shelling western city of Misrata despite proclaiming ceasefire; Libyan gov't denies conducting military operations.

By REUTERS
March 19, 2011 00:40
1 minute read.
Libyan soldiers at gates to Ajdabiyah

Libyan Soldiers Tank 311 (R). (photo credit: REUTERS)

 
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WASHINGTON - Despite proclaiming a ceasefire, forces loyal to Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi are continuing to advance toward the eastern rebel stronghold of Benghazi, a US national security official said on Friday.

The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told Reuters the troop movements were "purposeful." The troop movement assessment was based on official reporting reaching US national security agencies in Washington, he said.

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Forces loyal to Gaddafi shell west Libya's Misrata

The official also said the US agencies had confirmation that Gaddafi's forces were continuing to shell the western city of Misrata, where 25 people were reported killed on Friday by a doctor in the city.

The Libyan government has said its forces have conducted no military operations since announcing the ceasefire earlier on Friday.

The US official said the developments suggested that while Gaddafi may have pledged to uphold the ceasefire, military action against the rebels was continuing.

Earlier on Friday, US President Barack Obama warned Gaddafi to comply with UN demands for a cease-fire or face consequences that included military action.

Obama, laying out the rationale for deeper US involvement in Libya's turmoil, said the United States would work with its partners to enforce UN demands on Libya but promised that no US ground troops would be involved and that the United States would not use force beyond well-defined goals.



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