Libyan government forces attacked and overran a rebel outpost today along the nation’s border with Tunisia, chasing the rebels across the border into Tunisia briefly before retreating back across the border into Libya. The regime troops apologized to Tunisia for the incursion, which reportedly came during a firefight with retreating rebels.
Rebels also reported that the regime forces had attacked a small mountain town, Zintan, not far from the border. Accounts differed on whether the forces captured or simply shelled the town. The regime’s flag is again flying over the border crossing near the town, however, after several days of rebel control.
Witnesses inside Tunisia reported that Tunisia forces had captured fighters on both sides of the conflict when they crossed the border, but there has been no official confirmation. Reports also suggest that some of the missiles crossed the border and hit inside Tunisia, though they apparently did no damage.
The clash came just one day after British Defense Secretary Liam Fox suggested British ground troops could be deployed inside Tunisia. The rebel control of the border could have allowed Britain to funnel supplies to rebel fighters in west Libya, which may have sparked today’s offensive. The rebels still control one major city in western Libya, Misrata, and much of East Libya.