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Libya's rebels approaching Sirte: March 28 Mideast update

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Finbarr O'Reilly/Reuters

(Read caption) Rebel fighters fire their weapons in the desert in pursuit of forces loyal to Muammar Gaddafi some 75 miles east of Sirte in eastern Libya, March 28.

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Check back weekday mornings for a quick tally of the latest developments in the Middle East and North Africa.


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Over the weekend and into Monday, rebel forces staged a westward offensive, retaking Ajdabiya, Brega, Ras Lanuf, and Bin Jawwad. As of Monday, most outlets were reporting that they were about 75 miles east of Sirte, the hometown of Muammar Qaddafi and one of his strongholds, and that rebels were preparing to try to take Sirte for the first time. However, there were some unconfirmed reports that the rebels had already taken the city.

Recommended:Libya rebels push west again, but Sirte awaits

Meanwhile, allied forces conducted airstrikes on Sirte on Sunday night and NATO announced that it had assumed command of all operations in Libya.

Obama will give a TV address on Libya at 7:30 tonight.

RELATED: Libya timeline (updated daily)


Sources close to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad say he will soon announce that he is lifting the state of emergency that has been in place for more than 50 years, as well as several other restrictions on civil liberties. The announcement came after protests erupted in several cities Friday, where activists say at least 30 were killed after security forces opened fire. On Monday President Assad deployed troops in one city, Latakia, where at least 12 died in Friday and Saturday's clashes.


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Talks between President Abdullah Ali Saleh and his half-brother, the powerful Maj. Gen. Ali Mohsen al-Ahmar, broke down over the weekend over whether Saleh would be allowed to remain in the country, according to the Wall Street Journal. And after suspected Al Qaeda militants looted an ammunition factory in the restive south, dozens who went in to help themselves to the leftovers today were killed in an explosion, the cause of which is still unclear.