Muammar Qaddafi's forces have pummeled the Libyan rebels in recent days, especially in the besieged Western city of Misrata. But the opposition scored a key victory on Thursday by re-capturing the Wazin post on the Tunisian border, according to rebel leaders. The victory (celebrated by Libyans in a refugee camp on the border in the photo above) comes after three days of fighting near the desert town of Nalut, which is around 140 miles southwest of the capital and Qaddafi stronghold of Tripoli. And that's why the news outlets reporting the development say the military advance matters.
Holding the border crossing--which the Associated Press is calling Dhuheiba but Al Jazeera is calling Wazin--could open "important supply routes for anti-Gadhafi forces and give the rebels another foothold in western Libya," the AP's Karen Laub and Ben Hubbard explain. But Al Jazeera's Sue Tarton warns that the border crossing could soon swing back into Qaddafi's hands: "It is a mountainous area, which explains why [the rebels] managed to take it. They have taken it before and it can go back to Gaddafi forces."
The military victory dovetails with other action at the Tunisian border. Thirteen Libyan officers and soldiers, including a general, turned themselves over to the Tunisian military on Thursday after fighting with the rebels, according to Tunisia's state news agency. Al Jazeera Arabic is reporting that around 100 Qaddafi forces handed themselves over to Tunisian border guards after fleeing from the rebels.
Here's a map of the area where the clashes have been taking place (the map calls out Nalut and Dahibah along the border):
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.