Libyan opposition forces say they have repelled an attack by government troops on Zawiya, a western city near the capital, Tripoli, where Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi is trying to fight off an uprising against his 42-year rule.
An opposition leader in Zawiya told VOA that pro-Gadhafi troops and tanks tried to enter the city late Monday, but anti-government protesters fought back, killing several attackers and forcing the rest to flee hours later. But, the man said the protesters have few weapons and cannot topple Gadhafi on their own.
Witnesses said Libyan government forces also gathered outside the western city of Misrata Monday, in preparation for an attempt to retake control of the country’s third-largest population center. Libyan anti-government protesters backed by defecting army units have seized parts of western Libya and all of the east since launching the uprising last month.
In the east, witnesses say Libyan warplanes tried to bomb Benghazi, but rebels controlling the country’s number-two city fired anti-aircraft weapons and forced the aircraft to retreat. The aircraft then struck a weapons depot in the eastern town of Ajdabiya.
In an interview with U.S. network ABC Monday, Gadhafi denied using his air force to attack anti-government protesters. He also laughed off demands by Western nations that he step down, saying “all my people love me … and will die to protect me.”
U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice responded to Gadhafi’s comments by calling him “delusional.” She said the interview “underscores how unfit he is to lead and how disconnected he is from reality.”