Libyan Rebels Celebrate Gains, Push West

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BY CHRISTINA HARTMAN You're watching multisource world news analysis from Newsy Rebel forces in Libya a...
BY CHRISTINA HARTMAN You're watching multisource world news analysis from Newsy Rebel forces in Libya are looking west toward the capital of Tripoli after a series of victories in eastern coastal cities. Rebels recaptured Ajdabiya early Saturday - then went on to take Ras Lanuf and Brega. Those victories put every main oil terminal in eastern Libya in the hands of rebel forces. (VIDEO FROM BFM TV) Al Jazeera credits much of the opposition’s success to allied air strikes targeting Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi’s air defense capabilities. “Air strikes just before dawn did this. We counted at least 12 tanks here, some still burning with the shells inside occasionally exploding. They are celebrating a victory, but it’s a victory that wouldn’t have been possible without the devastating air power of the coalition.” Gaddafi representatives accuse the west of illegally aiding rebel fighters despite a publicly stated goal of only intervening to protect civilians. By most accounts pro-Gaddafi forces fled newly-won rebel territory without much of a fight. “…Optimistic talk of moving all the way over into the Gadhafi strong hold of Tripoli. The rebels are back on offense.” Others find it the optimism harder to believe. An international affairs professor at DC’s American University tells MSNBC – don’t count pro-Gaddafi forces out just yet. “Even if we could foresee a situation where the rebels could march on Tripoli and take control, my concern would be that supporters of Gadhafi would not let it end there. I think he does have significant support, maybe not majority support, but I think still significant support. And the idea that they're just going to fade into the desert I think is a bit of wishful thinking.” And as rebels hope to advance west – The Economist offers a bleak picture of their prospects there. The writer points to the isolated western rebel outpost of Misrata – where casualties mount and rebel fighters are outnumbered. “What happens in Misrata will have an impact on whether the coalition and the rebels have to settle for a stalemate lasting at least some months… For now, it remains unlikely that the rag-tag rebel forces have the capacity to move much further west than Ras Lanuf. … Even if the coalition is willing to provide advancing rebel forces with close air support … they still lack the training, weapons and command structure to be able take advantage of it against more disciplined troops.” In joint Sunday interviews – Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Secretary of Defense Robert Gates were more optimistic – calling recent rebel gains “significant.” President Obama is set to deliver a televised address on the U.S. role in Libya Monday. 'Like' Newsy on Facebook for updates in news feed Get multisource video news analysis from Newsy Transcript by Newsy