Libya rebels beat rapid retreat east under fire

AJDABIYAH, Libya, March 30 Wed Mar 30, 2011 9:26am EDT

AJDABIYAH, Libya, March 30 (Reuters) - Rebels beat a rapid retreat east after forces loyal to Muammar Gaddafi bombarded them with rockets and artillery on Wednesday, ceding oil towns as the Libyan leader's troops advanced.

Rebels said Gaddafi's forces, which have overrun Es Sider and Ras Lanuf, were headed to another oil town of Brega.

A Reuters correspondent saw many rebels in pick ups and other vehicles pulling out of Brega all the way to Ajdabiyah, dashing back over territory as quickly as they had taken it.

"We are going to Ajdabiyah," said rebel fighter Mohamed al-Abreigi. "We will gather there and, God willing, we will head back to Brega today." (Reporting by Alexander Dziadosz; Writing by Edmund Blair in Cairo)

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