RAS LANUF, Libya, March 27 (Reuters) - Rebels said on Sunday forces loyal to Muammar Gaddafi had retreated westwards and may be heading back towards the Libyan leader’s stronghold of Sirte, which is about 375 km (230 miles) away from Tripoli.
Several rebels said Gaddafi’s troops had headed back to Bin Jawad, suggesting the coastal town was back in rebel hands after they left it early March under a withering land, sea and air offensive by Gaddafi’s forces launched before Western warplanes began air strikes.
Bin Jawad was the furthest west rebels had reached before the Gaddafi’s forces pushed them back eastwards.
Asked about the situation in Bin Jawad, 30-year-old rebel fighter Samir Nega said: “The rebels are in the town. The rebels are in there and searching for Gaddafi’s soldiers.” He said this information was based on rebels coming from the front.
But Nega also said Gaddafi’s forces may have retreated further. When asked what happened to Gaddafi’s forces who had vacated the coastal oil terminal of Ras Lanuf, Nega said: “They ran away. Gaddafi’s forces have gone to Sirte.”
This could not be independently confirmed. (Reporting by Angus MacSwan; Writing by Edmund Blair in Cairo; editing by Elizabeth Fullerton)