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LIBYA: State TV reports significant gains for pro-Kadafi forces; rebels, journalists deny claims

March 6, 2011 |  3:35 am

120309-1 Libyan state TV claimed Sunday that forces loyal to leader Moammar Kadafi had recaptured a number of key towns from rebels -- claims swiftly denied by the rebels and some news organizations.

Kadafi-controlled TV said troops had retaken Libya's third largest city, Misurata, and the key oil pipeline hub Ras Lanuf. The report also claimed that Kadafi troops were in control of Tobruk in the far east.

Throngs of Kadafi supporters waving green flags reportedly took to the streets of Tripoli to celebrate the announcement.

But rebels and journalists on the ground rejected the claims. The Qatar-based pan-Arab news network Al-Jazeera said its reporter in Libya denied claims that Kadafi brigades had recaptured Tobruk, Ras Lanuf and Misurata.

The report suggested instead that the rebels were gaining ground and pushing back Kadafi forces, claiming anti-Kadafi fighters were in control of Nawfaliyah and Bin Jawwad regions and were less than 100 kilometers (62 miles) from Sirte, a Kadafi stronghold in the east.

Reporters from the Agence France-Presse news agency disputed that Ras Lanuf had been recaptured by Kadafi forces. A report said it had correspondents staying at a hotel on the outskirts and they reported no sounds of fighting during the night.

--Alexandra Sandels in Beirut

Photo: A Libyan rebel fighter mans a checkpoint in Ras Lanuf. Credit: Agence France Presse/Marco Longari