Four airstrikes largely stopped what had been heavy shelling of Ajdabiya by government forces, rebel battlefield commander and spokesman Col. Hamid Hassy said. NATO's leader of the operation said airstrikes Sunday destroyed 11 tanks near Ajdabiya and another 14 near Misrata, the only city rebels still hold in the western half of Libya.
Hassy said Qaddafi's forces fled the western gate of Ajdabiya and by mid-afternoon had been pushed back about 40 miles west of the city. Sporadic shelling, however, could still be heard in the area of western Ajdabiya.
The rebels claimed success as South African President Jacob Zuma and the heads of Mali and Mauritania arrive in Tripoli to try to broker a cease-fire. Qaddafi has ignored the cease-fire he announced after western airstrikes were authorized last month, and the government has rejected the rebels' conditions for a stop in fighting.
Government forces are trying to regain territory lost to the opposition following popular uprisings against Qaddafi's four decades of rule. They have been pounding Ajdabiya in their most sustained offensive since being driven back by international airstrikes last month. [...]
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