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Africa

Nato takes over no-fly zone as Kadhafi troops hold Sirte

media Rebels travel in a convoy on their way to Sirte city near Bin Jawad Reuters/Youssef Boudlal

Nato has taken over enforcing a no-fly zone over Libya as troops loyal to Moamer Kadhafi halt a rebel advance on the Libyan leader's home town of Sirte. General Charles Bouchard, who was appointed on Friday to head the operation codenamed 'Operation Unified Protector', said Nato aircraft had carried out the first no-fly zone enforcement on Sunday.

 

He added that the broader military mission in Libya was still under transition from the Western-led coalition that began attacking Kadhafi's forces on 19 March. The transition is expected to take 48-72 hours to complete.

On Monday, nine powerful explosions shook Sirte which is the next target of pro-democracy rebels as they push towards the capital from their bastion of Benghazi. But regime loyalists in pick-up trucks are reported to have opened fire on the rebels forcing them to retreat back into Bin Jawad.

The rebels, who were on the verge of losing their Benghazi stronghold before the airs strikes began, regained control of Ajdabiya and Brega on Saturday before moving further west to win back Ras Lanuf and Bin Jawad.

Opposition representatives in Benghazi are trying to form a government-in-waiting. The official voice of the opposition currently rests with the Provisional Transitional National Council, PTNC, a group of 31 members representing the country's major cities and towns.

Meanwhile, Quatar on Monday became the second nation after France to recognise the PTNC as the sole legitimate representative of the Libyan people.

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