Air Raids Force Regime To Pull Back.. Rebels Seize The East
Libyan rebels clinched their hold on the east and seized back a key city on Saturday after decisive international airstrikes sent Moammar Gadhafi’s forces into retreat, shedding their uniforms and ammunition as they fled.
Ajdabiya’s initial loss to Gadhafi may have ultimately been what saved the rebels from imminent defeat, propelling the U.S. and its allies to swiftly pull together the air campaign now crippling Gadhafi’s military. Its recapture gives President Barack Obama a tangible victory just as he faces criticism for bringing the United States into yet another war.
In Ajdabiya, drivers honked in celebration and flew the tricolor rebel flag. Others in the city fired guns into the air and danced on burned-out tanks that littered the road.
Their hold on the east secure again, the rebels promised to resume their march westward that had been reversed by Gadhafi’s overwhelming firepower.
“Without the planes we couldn’t have done this. Gadhafi’s weapons are at a different level than ours,” said Ahmed Faraj, 38, a rebel fighter from Ajdabiya. “With the help of the planes we are going to push onward to Tripoli, God willing.”
The Gadhafi regime acknowledged the airstrikes had forced its troops to retreat and accused international forces of choosing sides.
The Pentagon released its much-anticipated study on repealing Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell (DADT) on Tuesday, finding that 70 percent of servicemembers believe the change in policy would have a positive, mixed or no effect. The announcement was accompanied by a full-throated endorsement of allowing gays and lesbians to serve openly by the study’s co-authors, who concluded that there is little risk of disruption to the military if implementation is properly carried out.
Co-authors Defense Department General Counsel Jeh Johnson and Army Gen. Carter Ham told reporters in a press briefing on Tuesday that the study found strong support for implementing repeal, and activists are hoping that lawmakers who were waiting to see the findings will now come out in support of allowing gays and lesbians to serve openly. Furthermore, they made clear that much of the opposition to repeal springs from misinformation.
“The reality is that there are gay men and lesbians already serving in today’s U.S. military, and most Service members recognize this,” said Johnson in his prepared remarks to reporters. “Further, in the course of our assessment, it became apparent to us that, aside from the moral and religious objections to homosexuality, much of the concern about ‘openly’ gay Service members is driven by misperceptions and stereotypes.”