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Libyan Official: Army Suspends Operation in Misrata


A rebel fighter walks beside a captured Gaddafi forces tank in Tripoli street April 22, 2011. Rebel fighters pushed Gaddafi forces off the upper part of Tripoli Street in central Misrata during an overnight offense.

A rebel fighter walks beside a captured Gaddafi forces tank in Tripoli street April 22, 2011. Rebel fighters pushed Gaddafi forces off the upper part of Tripoli Street in central Misrata during an overnight offense.

Libyan Deputy Foreign Minister Khaled Kaim said early Sunday the army has suspended operations against rebels in the western rebel stronghold of Misrata, but not left the city.

Kaim said troops have halted operations in Misrata to enable tribal elders to negotiate with the rebels. He said if the rebels don't surrender in 48 hours, the tribesmen will fight them in place of the army. Kaim had first announced troop withdrawal from Misrata on Friday.

Twenty-four people were killed Saturday in fierce fighting in Libya's third-largest city as the United States announced its first Predator drone strike in Libya.

A U.S. Defense Department statement says the airstrike, carried out by an unmanned aircraft, took place on Saturday. However, the statement does not say where the strike occurred. The U.S. strike is part of a NATO-led effort to impose a no-fly zone over Libya, where rebels are fighting to overthrow the government.

Libyan Official: Army Suspends Operation in Misrata

Libyan Official: Army Suspends Operation in Misrata

Earlier Saturday, NATO forces bombed an area close to the Libyan leader's compound in Tripoli, hitting what reporters described as a military installation. There were no reports of injuries.

And the Italian Foreign Ministry said Libyan authorities had released an Italian ship detained in the port of Tripoli last month along with its 11 crew members. The ship, which was working for an Italian oil company, was seized shortly before the international coalition began imposing the no-fly zone.

View the slide show of the besieged city of Misrata

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and Reuters.

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