After days of intense fighting, reports Tuesday evening suggest that the Gadhafi regime’s forces have seized most or all of the key strategic town of Ajdabiyah. Control of the town was heavily contested, but air strikes and bombardment appear to have finally driven the rebels out.
The city was seen as a vital line of defense for the rebel forces, who deployed reinforcements from Benghazi. Ajdabiyah is the last major city along the coast before Benghazi, the rebel capital, and also has a road leading directly to the key rebel city of Tobruk.
In many ways this makes Ajdabiyah analogous to Zawiya, the key western city on the outskirts of Tripoli that the rebels initially captured, but lost to the regime late last week. Though the rebels had once taken much of the country, the regime’s counter-offensive has reclaimed much lost territory and now has the rebels on their heels.
Despite the regime’s gains, the rebels are said to have done some damage on their way out of the city, with rebel-controlled warplanes reportedly sinking two of the warships involved in the bombardment. The report, if confirmed, would mark the first major use of air power by the rebels.