Qaddafi hits rebels, opens way to Cyrenaica

Tuesday, March 8, Col. Muammar Qaddafi reached the tipping point of his offensive against rebel forces and his troops are advancing toward Ajdabiya, their first destination in the rebel-held eastern region of Cyrenaica, debkafile's military sources report. Seriously outgunned, the anti-Qaddafi militias appeared to have folded and are no longer able to post a defense line to stop the government advance.

It took Qaddafi three weeks of savage warfare to reverse the tide against him. More and more rebel voices were heard Tuesday appealing desperately for international or Arab aid to rescue them from the oncoming Qaddafi war machine.

 For now, no help is seen to be on the way.

President Barack Obama has not yet reached a decision about US military intervention in Libya and British Prime Minister David Cameron has backed away from his high rhetoric about a British military role in the war against Qaddafi and is now saying the British will go in only if the Americans do.

Not a single Arab ruler or government is willing to dip a toe into the Libyan cauldron. In the last few hours, Egypt's military rulers have notified Washington that they have no intention of helping the Libyan opposition, even by sending arms.

Qaddafi's commanders turned the tide of battle in their favor by the following tactic: At the start of the week, they concentrated around the key town of Sirte (Sidra) two armored battalions of T-72 tanks, three battalions of special forces, beefed up by an extra 3,000 tribal fighters flown in from the Sahara, and a fleet of dozens of helicopter gunships.
Our sources report that Qaddafi paid out many millions of petrodollars to the heads of the Saharan tribal federation to hire fighting manpower form the various tribes.

This force was split in two: One column advanced south along the Sidra Gulf coast towards the refinery town of Ras Lanuf and the second struck southeast toward the big oil town of Brega and Ajdabia. Both rolled forward behind a wall of fire of BM-21 Katyusha rockets and helicopters firing missiles and heavy machine guns as T-72 tanks mowed down everything in their path. 
Against the only rebel position west of Tripoli in the town of Zawiya, dozens of tanks crushed building after building before pulling out and then returning.

At the same time, the reports of Libyan air force bombardments of rebels have been exaggerated. Our military sources report that the fighter jets were used to sow panic in rebel ranks.

The ferocity of the pro-Qaddafi onslaught in the east and the west caught the Libyan opposition forces without the weapons to fight it off. By Tuesday night, they had paid the price with scores of dead and hundreds of injured.

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