Witnesses said on Saturday that Ras Lanouf, about 140 kilometres east of the Gaddafi stronghold of Sirte, fell to rebel hands on Friday night after a fierce battle with pro-regime forces who later fled.
An Associated Press reporter who arrived in Ras Lanouf late on Saturday morning saw Libya’s red, black and green pre-Gadhafi monarchy flag adopted by the rebels hoisted over the town’s oil facilities.
The witnesses spoke on condition of anonymity because they feared reprisals. Rebels have also repelled an attack by Gaddafi forces on the western town of Zawiyah, a rebel spokesperson told Reuters on Saturday. “They entered Zawiyah at six in the morning with heavy forces, hundreds of soldiers with tanks.
Our people fought back … We have won for now and civilians are gathering in the square,” said Youssef Shagan, the rebel force spokesperson in Zawiyah.
A revolt against Gaddafi’s four-decade rule has left the eastern side of the country, and several towns elsewhere, in rebel control. He is facing international condemnation over the hundreds killed in a crackdown on the revolt.