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Libya revolutionaries take Ras Lanuf

Libyan revolutionary forces have taken control of more strategically-important cities as they push westward toward the capital, Tripoli.

Latest reports say opposition forces took control of the oil-rich eastern city of Ras Lanuf on Sunday, after recapturing the key cities of Ajdabiya and Brega the previous day.

The opposition forces also recaptured Ben Jawad, a hamlet 50 kilometers (30 miles) west of Ras Lanuf.

Sources say opposition forces took advantage of French airstrikes on Ben Jawad on Sunday morning that destroyed several Libyan tanks.

Revolutionary forces lost control of the three cities to forces loyal to Libyan ruler Muammar Gaddafi about two weeks ago.

The revolutionary forces are being led by the Benghazi-based National Libyan Council.

The council, headed by Libya’s former Justice Minister Mustafa Abdel Jalil, plans to lead the country to an election.

Jalil was among the first high-profile Libyan figures to join protesters following the Gaddafi regime’s brutal crackdown on the opposition.

Ras Lanuf is located 370 kilometers (230 miles) west of the opposition stronghold city of Benghazi.

Also on Saturday night, French fighter jets destroyed at least five warplanes and two helicopters belonging to pro-Gaddafi forces in the western cities of Zintan and Misratah.

The US-led military alliance has been carrying out airstrikes between Ajdabiya and coastal city of Sirte — Gaddafi’s hometown.

US President Barack Obama recently said that Western military mission in Libya is close to victory.

“Make no mistake, because we acted quickly, a humanitarian catastrophe has been avoided and the lives of countless civilians – innocent men, women and children – have been saved,” Obama said in his weekly address,

The Libyan government, however, says the fresh Western-led airstrikes have left many civilians dead.

“We are losing many lives, military and civilians,” Libyan government Spokesman Mussa Ibrahim said in Tripoli.

Libya says at least 114 people — many of them civilians — have been killed in US-led airstrikes in the country.

Libyan troops have also killed hundreds of civilians and tortured several others in the North African country since a revolution started against Colonel Gaddafi in mid-February.

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