News / USA

Fighter Jet Goes Down Near Libyan Rebel-Held Benghazi

A warplane is seen being shot down over the outskirts of Benghazi, eastern Libya, March 19, 2011
A warplane is seen being shot down over the outskirts of Benghazi, eastern Libya, March 19, 2011

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Elizabeth Arrott

Witnesses in the Libyan rebel-held city of Benghazi say a fighter jet has been brought down on the outskirts of town.   They also report fighting in the area started early Saturday. Although it remains unclear whose plane it was and what brought it down, the reports raise further concerns that Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi is not honoring his declared cease-fire.

Opposition forces in Benghazi accuse Colonel Gadhafi of lying about the cease-fire, as they report mortar attacks on the southern edge of the rebel stronghold.

A Libyan official is quoted as denying the reports of a continued government advance.

Fighting around Benghazi would belie the Libyan leader's pledge Friday to stop hostilities.  The pledge came after the United Nations threatened military action to protect Libyan citizens.  

International action is not expected until, at earliest, later Saturday.

Also, rebels have been unable to mount an air offensive, leaving little alternative to the scenario of a pro-Gadhafi plane having gone down.

There were also reports of fighting south of Benghazi in Adjabiya.   Highways run both north and east of the town, offering Gadhafi forces the chance to encircle the remaining rebel held towns, a threat that helped move the international community to action.

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