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Gadhafi Forces Shell Misrata Anew Killing 22 Rebels

TRIPOLI, Libya (June 11 2011) — A doctor stationed in a Misrata hospital said that 22 people were killed in the latest attacks by Gadhafi's forces in the outskirts of the rebel-controlled city.

The doctor who identified himself as Ayman works at Hikma hospital said Gadhafi loyalists bombed Dafniya, a town 18 miles (30 kilometers) west of Misrata, using tanks, artillery and incendiary rockets. The attacks began about 10 a.m. resulting in the deaths of 22 and wounding of 61 people.

After being driven by rebels out of the rebel-held city, Gadhafi forces resumed their shelling near Misrata on Wednesday.

Misrata is one of the few western territories that rebels control giving them free access to Libya's largest port.

The physician said residents saw no sign of NATO aircraft in the Misrata region. There also were no reports of NATO strikes in Tripoli, the capital.

For weeks,NATO had been bombing targeted areas inTripoli and surrounding areas in support of the four-month-old rebel uprising that seeks to oust Gadhafi from power after 42 years.

Rebels now control most of eastern Libya, but even with NATO air support Gadhafi force has successfully stifled their advance towards Tripoli.

Misrata remained one of the most important rebel footholds deep into the Gadhafi controlled west.

Gadhafi forces surround Misrata on all sides except the north, where the city has access to the Mediterranean Sea for supplies and food through the all-important Misrata port.

Rebels have so far repelled Gadhafi's attempts to retake the city.

The fighting is effectively in stalemate as the Gadhafi forces can still push back rebel forces trying to break out of Misrata to the west toward Tripoli, where Gadhafi is feeling the heat of NATO bombardment.

A rebel fighter in Misrata, identified only as Abdel-Salem, said Gadhafi's sons, Khamis and al-Moatassem, and top aid Abdullah al-Senoussi are in command of the operation in Zlitan, about nine miles (15 kilometers) from Dafinya. They are trying to stop the rebel advance out of Misrata.

Abdel-Salam said "The situation is very bad there. Gadhafi sent huge forces to Zlitan to fortify the city because he knows that if Zlitan falls to the rebels, the way to Tripoli will be wide open. Now the ball is in the court of NATO, but we have not seen any NATO planes flying over despite the fierce battle."

Zlitan residents are mostly Ghadafi loyalists, said Abdel-Salam.  (From