Mar 27, 2011 4:40 PM by AP posted By James H Egbert

Libya air raids target Gadhafi hometown of Sirte

TRIPOLI, Libya (AP) - Libyan state television reports that international airstrikes are targeting Moammar Gadhafi's hometown and stronghold of Sirte for the first time.

Foreign journalists in the city reported loud explosions and warplanes flying overheard.

Sirte is strategically located about halfway between the rebel-held east and the Gadhafi-controlled west along a key coastal highway. Rebels were advancing rapidly west on the highway Sunday toward Sirte after international airstrikes eased their way.

An Associated Press reporter in the capital said international forces were also heavily bombarding the city that is Gadhafi's main support base. There were at least nine loud explosions in Tripoli after nightfall and anti-aircraft fire was heard.

Residents in the contested city of Misrata in western Libya are also reporting fighting between anti-government rebels and pro-Gadhafi forces firing from tanks on residential areas.

Re-energized rebels have been pushing toward Libya's capital after international airstrikes forced Moammar Gadhafi's forces to pull back. Rebels have retaken two key oil complexes responsible for a large chunk of Libya's oil exports, which have all but stopped since the uprising began Feb. 15.



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