Qaddafi's delusions displayed amid rebel advance

As many as 6,000 opponents of Muammar Qaddafi marched through rebel-held Benghazi, in Libya on Saturday. Despite the show of unity against the dictator, increased fighting was reported in the cities of Misrata and Zawiya.

CBS News correspondent Allen Pizzey reports that Qaddaf's forces were trying to halt an attempt by Libya's rebels to push forward in the strategic western city of Misrata, which has been the scene of the fiercest fighting since the conflict in Libya began. The current round of assaults caused the rebels to suffer some of their worst casualties to date.

The first fighting since March also broke out in the key town of Zawiya on the road to Tunisia. The road is Qaddafi's main supply line, and rebel control of Zawiya would effectively cut the Libyan capital off from the outside world.

Tripoli's port is useless thanks to the NATO blockade, which is already causing shortages of vital supplies including refined fuel. Lines at gas stations here stretch for miles.

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Whatever the situation on the battlefront, however, the Qaddafi regime never misses a propaganda opportunity. There was a grand show to mark the anniversary of the eviction of the U.S. military from what used to be Wheelus Air Base.

The air base was first used by American bombers in 1943. It served as a Strategic Air Command base and NATO training centre until 1970, a year after Khadafy took power.

The general theme of this weekend's event, and especially the speech, was simple: Muammar Qaddafi drove the Americans and NATO out. Now they're trying to come back to set up more bases and steal Libya's oil, and he's not going to let that happen. (13)

That may seem unrealistic given what's going on outside his capital, but Qaddafi seems to hear only his own song. He's just rebuffed an offer from Turkey to guarantee his safety if he gives up.

  • Allen Pizzey

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