TRIPOLI, Libya — After a second night of American and European strikes by air and sea against Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi‘s forces, European nations rejected on Monday Libyan claims that civilians had been killed, while pro-Qaddafi forces were reportedly still holding out against the allied campaign to break their hold on the ground while enforcing a no-fly zone, The New York Times reports.
Rebel fighters trying to retake the eastern town of Ajdabiya appeared to have fallen back to a position around 12 miles to the north on the road to Benghazi, the de facto rebel capital. At least eight rebels were killed as they tried to advance toward Ajdabiya on Monday, cut down by tank and missile fire from loyalist troops dug in on the approaches to the town. Rebel fighters showed reporters the bodies of four of them, loaded onto a pickup truck.
There were conflicting reports about whether the allies had attacked loyalist forces in the town. While planes had been heard overhead, there appeared to have been no attack on the pro-Qaddafi forces holding the entrance Ajdabiya on the coastal highway leading north to Benghazi. Ajdabiya is a strategically important town that has been much fought over, straddling an important highway junction and acting as a chokepoint for forces trying to advance in either direction.
The retreat from Ajdabiya appeared to have thrown the rebels into deep disarray, with one commander at the checkpoint trying to marshal the opposition forces, using a barely functioning megaphone, but few of the fighters heeding his exhortations.
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