ZAWIYA, Libya—Near the western rebel-held city of Zawiya Thursday, a heavy government military presence could be seen outside the important oil city, where a group of armed antiregime protesters remain holed up, The Wall Street Journal reports.
Moammar Gadhafi ordered forces to open fire on rebels fighting for control of oil fields in eastern Libya. In the U.S., oil prices came down slightly perking up stock futures. Plus, a new poll shows Americans have a bleak economic outlook for 2011.
A military checkpoint guarded the entrance of the Zawiya Oil Refinery Co., the country's second-largest refinery. The government on Thursday escorted a throng of foreign reporters on a tour of the facility, and government minders appeared eager to demonstrate that the site was under their control.
In Libya's east, meanwhile, government warplanes struck the rebel-held oil port of Brega, as mutinous army units with machine guns and rocket launchers deployed around the town's strategic oil installations, securing the site after the opposition repelled an attempt by government loyalists to retake the port Wednesday, the Associated Press reported.
The rebels are calling for foreign airstrikes as they fend off the offensive by forces loyal to Col. Moammar Gadhafi, but senior U.S. defense officials are lowering expectations of an international military intervention in the country.
At the Zawiya refinery Thursday, the company's chairman, Naser Sharif, and board member Khalifa al-Saheli said during a briefing that, except for the absence of 30% to 40% of the refinery's approximate 2,000-man work force, everything else was operating normally and was unaffected by the unrest in nearby Zawiya.
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