Libyan rebels have pushed forces loyal to Muammar Gaddafi out of much of the city but they are still facing bombardment.
Control of the oil town has changed hands several times during the past month as government troops and opposition forces advance and then retreat. If there were eventually to be a ceasefire leading to Libya’s partition, control of resources and revenues from oil ports including Brega and Ras Lanuf would be crucial.
In the west, Gaddafi’s forces are continuing to besiege Misrata. But neither side, it seems, has been able to gain the upper hand. Despite NATO’s airstrikes on government positions, the rebels are being mostly undone by indiscipline.
More experienced and retired officers are now reportedly swelling the rebel ranks to combat the better equipped government troops. It remains unclear, however, the extent of rebel casualties with opposition forces claiming they urgently need more weapons and fresh supplies.