Libyan government forces have placed naval mines in the waters off the port city of Misrata, where rebels are hunkered down in their key strategic city in the West of the country. The aim of this is to prevent humanitarian aid from reaching Misrata, the rebel stronghold, which has been shelled by Gadhafi’s artillery extensively throughout the conflict. NATO is aware, but have not quite resolved the issue. From CBC.ca:
“There was an announcement from the Libyan government, the Ministry of Transportation, that Misrata port is closed and that any foreign ship or vessel would be targeted by the Libyan armed forces,” Kaim said when asked about attempts by the regime on Friday to lay anti-ship mines along the access route to Misrata’s port.
Two of the mines were destroyed, but a third floated away, and NATO vessels have been searching for it. The attempted mining has disrupted the delivery of desperately needed supplies to Misrata, a city of 300,000.
CBC quotes a spokesman for the Internation Organization for Migration: “The Red Star One had waited off Misrata for several days, for fear of mines.” The Red Star One is on a mission “to deliver basic supplies and evacuate some 1,000 migrants and wounded civilians from the city.” The situation has been dire: “Two seriously ill civilians died earlier this week while IOM was waiting for permission from NATO and Libyan authorities to dock the ship in Misrata,” the spokesman said.
Gadhafi holds most of the West of the country, while the rebels hold cities in the East. Gadhafi’s military has continued to shell Misrata, some say indiscriminately. There are no signs of a break in the stalemate. NATO air power holds back Gadhafi’s tanks, and their lack of equipment and experience evidently prevents the rebels from advancing on Gadhafi’s positions. Click the image below for a map of the conflict:
The CBC article gives a very good image of recent development and the current situation in Libya.