The New York Times
April 5, 2011

Forces loyal to Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi battered rebel fighters on the road outside this strategic oil town on Tuesday with rocket fire, mortars and artillery, driving them many miles to the north and leaving them in disarray

A day after a senior Libyan rebel leader had criticized NATO for “a delay in reacting and lack of response to what’s going on on the ground,” there was still no sign of the air power that two weeks ago seemed to have the loyalist forces reeling toward the Qaddafi stronghold of Surt, more than 100 miles to the west.

The official, Ali al-Essawi, the foreign policy director of the Transitional National Council, the rebels’ coordinating group, said that the problems began after NATO took charge of the air campaign from the United States, Britain and France, and that he now foresaw a drawn-out battle. “They took the command; they will make it long,” he said in an interview in Rome.

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