Libya: Rebels repel attack on Brega, Libyans react strongly against foreign intervention
As demonstrations continue around the Middle East, we keep you updated on the developing situation. Use this chart to keep up with all of the demonstrations, day by day.
We'll be marking time in Eastern Standard Time. Tunisia is six hours ahead, Egypt and Libya are seven hours ahead, Yemen and Iraq are eight hours ahead, and Oman is nine hours ahead. (See World Clock here.)
We're signing off for the night, but we leave you with this photo of a rebel holding his ears as a bomb launched by a Libyan air force jet explodes in the desert near Brega today:
Come visit us tomorrow for the latest developments. Thanks for being with us today.
Libyan rebels repelled an assault by troops backing Moammar Gaddafi in a key oil port Wednesday. The battle in the town of Brega lasted for hours until the attackers beat a retreat. Watch:
Gaddafi's government has intermittently blocked users from accessing Facebook and Twitter in the country or watched user accounts, so some Libyans have found innovative ways to communicate with fellow revolutionaries online.
Mahmoudi says he "created a Mawada profile called 'Where Is Miriam?' and pretended to be on the hunt for a wife." Other protesters posed as women with names like Sweet Butterfly and Opener of the Mountain to get in touch with him, since the site does not allow men to message other men, Mahmoudi told ABC.
On the site, the anti-Gaddafi users used messages laced with revolutionary references to make initial contact with another user and gauge their support "May your day be full of Jasmine," for example, was used to talk about the Jasmine Revolution sweeping the region. They also communicated in more precise code: Five Ls in the phrase "I LLLLLove you" meant they had five people with them. The revolutionaries then had detailed follow-up conversations on text message and Yahoo Messenger.
As two U.S. warships crossed into the Mediterranean and closer to Libya promising humanitarian relief while U.S. officials gave mixed messages about whether they were seriously considering a no-fly zone, Libyans reacted strongly against foreign intervention.
Gaddafi promised that U.S. intervention would lead to war. Libyan citizens galvanized support on Facebook, with pages such as "Libyan Consensus We Don't Want Foreign Intervention". On Twitter, Libyan accounts such as "EnoughGaddafi" tweeted their mistrust of intervention: "#gaddafi is himself the result of int'l intervention in #libya , they've only found no need for him any longer #feb17".
Our correspondent Leila Fadel just sent in this report from Brega:
Rebel forces successfully repelled powerful ground and air assaults in the oil rich area of Brega on Wednesday as Gaddafi forces attempted to creep back into the east and reassert control.
Gaddafi forces arrived in over 60 armed vehicles and were shelling the area as rebel forces attacked.
After an hour-long battle the rebels celebrated their victory and vowed to push forward to ensure Gaddafi's forces did not return.
"We are going to liberate Brega and then on to Tripoli," said one fighter as they refueled at a gas station in Ajdabiya.
Ambulances and doctors rushed towards Brega to help. In the main hospital of Ajdabiya six of the dead had been brought in and at least 13 wounded. They were expecting more by Wednesday night.
Libyan Youth Movement and others in Brega tweeted about the battle:
European nations and Egypt launched emergency airlifts along Libya's borders Wednesday, AP reported. Tens of thousands of foreign workers poured into Tunisia to escape the growing conflict in Libya.
Relief efforts in Tunisia were overwhelmed by the thousands of workers, and U.N. experts warned that fast action was needed to protect and feed the refugees before it became a humanitarian crisis.
See a gallery of the mass exodus here.
Toppled Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak is receiving medical treatment for cancer in Saudi Arabia, Agence France-Presse (AFP) reported, citing a report in the state-owned Al-Akhbar newspaper on Wednesday.
"Mubarak is currently in a military base in the city of Tabuk and is receiving treatment for colon and pancreatic cancer," the report said. "He is undergoing chemotherapy every five days."
Egyptian authorities had earlier placed a travel ban on Mubarak, but many believed he was able to escape Egypt for the resort of Sharm el-Sheikh.
Forces loyal to Libyan leader Moammar Gaddafi launched deadly air and ground assaults near a key oil port held by rebels in eastern Libya on Wednesday, sending panic through a part of the country where the opposition has seized control of many cities.
Although initial reports were sketchy, at least 14 people were reported killed in heavy fighting in and around the oil port of Brega, including in the town of Ajdabiya, 50 miles to the northeast of Brega.
Witnesses said a convoy of 60 trucks - filled with men armed with bazookas, rocket-propelled grenades and machine guns - entered the area at dawn. Al Jazeera reported that the Libyan air force bombed the oil refinery and port, triggering huge plumes of smoke.
Pro-government forces launched shells at the rebels from a university campus, according to witness accounts. Opposition fighters armed with rifles, machetes and meat skewers tried to fight off the militias. A paramedic said 14 people were killed.
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A Libyan Facebook group called "Uprising of February 17, 2011: To make it a day of anger in Libya," which has been instrumental in galvanizing support for the protests in Libya and has nearly 100,000 fans, posted a video Wednesday that purportedly showed members of the Libyan army fighting alongside the demonstrators.
The video, entitled "Join the Libyan army of demonstrators against the tyrant and mercenaries," got nearly 2,000 likes within an hour of its posting and nearly a hundred comments of support.
Watch it here. If you would like to see the comments translated, view it in Google Chrome. NOTE: The video contains violent imagery.
Oil prices have topped $100 per barrel as the New York Mercantile Exchange opens for trading. Prices rose Wednesday morning as fighting escalated in Libya, a major oil exporter to Europe. Forces loyal to Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi pushed back against protestors in the eastern half of the country, battling for control of a key oil installation and an airstrip.
Yemen's embattled president on Tuesday accused the U.S., his closest ally, of instigating the mounting protests against him, but the gambit failed to slow the momentum for his ouster. Watch:
Gaddafi concluded his televised speech after hitting the two hour mark, Al Jazeera reported. Gaddafi vowed to fight to the "last man and last woman" to defend his country, and spoke on Egypt, oil, and his own salary:
On Egypt: "Egypt now is nothing! There is no Egyptian in agreement with another! The military is helpless!"
On oil: "Undermining Libya's unity or oil wealth will lead to everyone bearing arms ... Oil is our bread and butter. We will die in its defense."
On his salary: "I am ready to have my accounts verified. My salary is only 465 dinars [approximately $380].... My wife's charity receives donations, which are channeled to needy causes in Africa. Sometimes these are channeled domestically."
Youth movement members, writers, and local Libyans reacted with derision to Gaddafi's speech.
A photo on the Libyan Youth Movement Facebook page showed protesters carrying a sign that read "Breaking News, Gaddafi is lying now":
It's worth reading the comments to this photo here.
Tweets expressed similar sentiments:
Forces loyal to Libyan leader Moammar Gaddafi moved to recapture control of a key oil port in eastern Libya early Wednesday. It looked as if loyalist forces could reverse the tide of the opposition uprising.
Gaddafi also gave a televised public rally in the capital, Tripoli, Wednesday, denying the existence of protests in Libya and saying the power was in the "hands of the people".
During the rally, Gaddafi said that he is not a president and so cannot resign his position, Al Jazeera reported. "The foreigners want Gaddafi to step down, to step down from what? Gaddafi is just a symbol for the Libyan people... This is how the Libyan people understood it," he said.
Gaddafi also reiterated the claim he made to journalist Christiane Amanpour that there were no protests happening in Libya. Gaddafi said it all started with sleeping terrorist cells taking over weapons and security stations and releasing prisoners from jails, Al Jazeera reported.
"These are criminals not political prisoners ... there are no political prisoners in Libya ... We had to destroy the weapons storages to prevent them from falling into the hands of the terrorists," he said.
Gaddafi also called on the United Nations and NATO to investigate what had happened in Libya, and the conspiracy to colonize Libya and seize its oil. He warned that "thousands of Libyans" will die if the U.S. or NATO intervene in his country.
Iranian security forces clashed with demonstrators and shot tear gas Tuesday to break up a rally, an opposition Web site reported. The rally was in support of two opposition leaders who have been targeted in a new crackdown on anti-government protests.
Witnesses said large crowds marched along the main Enghelab (Revolution) Street, where large numbers of professional and voluntary security forces were stationed. As security forces fired tear gas at the demonstrators, protesters set fire to trash cans, witnesses said. Similar anti-government protests were reported in other cities across Iran.
Iran rejected outside criticism of its handling of the opposition and arrest of two prominent dissidents.
| March 2, 2011; 4:12 PM ET
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