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February 24, 2011 12:52 pm

Armed Rebels Closing in on Tripoli

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New York Times – Thousands of mercenary and irregular forces struck back at a tightening circle of rebellions around the capital, Tripoli, on Thursday, trying to fend off an uprising against the 40-year rule of Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi, who blamed the violence on “hallucinogenic” drugs and Osama bin Laden.

The fighting on Thursday centered on Zawiya, a gateway city to the capital, just 30 miles west of Tripoli, where government opponents had briefly claimed victory. Colonel Qaddafi’s forces — a mixture of special brigades and African mercenaries — fought back, blasting a mosque that had been used as a refuge by protesters, a witness told The Associated Press.

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