Libyan rebels are frantically fleeing eastward after forces loyal to leader Moammar Gadhafi drove them Wednesday from a key oil port.
Western news reports from outside Ras Lanuf say rebels are retreating amid intense fighting with pro-government forces shelling them and firing rockets.
The reports said large numbers of rebels fled in pickup trucks, giving up nearly all the ground they had taken since a weekend push westward.
On Tuesday, pro-Gadhafi troops reversed the rebel's push, hammering them with tank and artillery fire and forcing a panicked retreat to Ras Lanuf. Opposition fighters pleaded for allied air strikes as they fled.
Loyalist troops also continued to besiege Misrata on Wednesday, the last significant rebel holdout in the west.
Western nations began enforcing a United Nations-authorized no-fly zone over Libya on March 19. On Wednesday, NATO member states begin enforcing all military operations in the North African nation.
Article by VOA News