Rebels Retake Ajdabiya; President Obama to Address Nation on Libya

BY News Desk  March 26, 2011 at 8:28 AM EDT


Libyan rebels celebrate on a destroyed tank in Ajdabiya. (Patrick Baz/AFP/Getty Images)

The Libyan military withdrew from Ajdabiya Saturday, and rebels retook control of the key eastern city, following Western air strikes on Moammar Gadhafi’s forces, said a deputy foreign minister.

“They (Western forces) were heavily involved, so the Libyan armed forces decided to leave Ajdabiya this morning,” Deputy Foreign Minister Khaled Kaim told reporters, according to Reuters. He said Western forces were aiding rebels, instead of helping civilians.

Meanwhile, Western-led air forces shelled pro-Gadhafi defenses, including an ammunition dump, around the city of Misrata, a rebel spokesman said. Forces loyal to Gadhafi reportedly control the eastern and western gates to the city, though the inside is still held by rebels.

CNN International reports on the story of an injured Libyan soldier — one of several dozen held by opposition forces in Benghazi:

A week ago, the U.S. and some European allies launched an air strike on Gadhafi air and ground forces, and since have been joined by Qatar and the United Arab Emirates in their effort to enforce the no-fly zone.

Facing criticism for not getting Congress’ approval before launching the military strike, President Obama defended the U.S. and allied military action in Libya in his weekly radio address Saturday morning:

“The United States should not — and cannot — intervene every time there’s a crisis somewhere in the world. But I firmly believe that when innocent people are being brutalized; when someone like Gadhafi threatens a bloodbath that could destabilize an entire region; and when the international community is prepared to come together to save many thousands of lives — then it’s in our national interest to act.”

He emphasized that the U.S. role is limited and will not include ground troops. Watch the full Saturday address:

President Obama also plans to deliver a primetime speech on Libya on Monday at 7:30 p.m. ET.

We’ll have more updates as events warrant. View all of our international coverage on World and follow us on Twitter.