NATO strikes hit weapon depots near Zintan: resident

TUNIS (Reuters) – NATO airstrikes hit weapons depots belonging to forces loyal to Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi near the town of Zintan on Friday, a resident said.

“The depots are situated 15 km southeast of Zintan. We could see buildings on fire in the distance,” the resident called Abdulrahman said by phone. He said the airstrikes took place on Friday morning.

“First we heard aircraft and then we counted some 14 explosions. Some people used binoculars and saw buildings on fire,” he said. “Rebels believe some of the depots were destroyed but not all. We are talking about huge facilities.”

He said more airstrikes targeted the depots later in the day. “Rebels headed toward the depots this morning to check the damage but Gaddafi’s forces fired mortars and artillery at them, forcing them to retreat.”

Pro-Gaddafi forces have remained on the outskirts of Zintan, 160 km (100 miles) southwest of Tripoli, from where they have launched attacks on the town, Abdulrahman said.

Like rebels fighting pro-Gaddafi forces in the city of Misrata, Abdulrahman called for tougher action from NATO.

“They could have for example hit Gaddafi forces still positioned east of the depots,” he said.

“I assure you I speak in the name of all the people of Zintan — we fear that if he (Gaddafi) doesn’t leave and NATO stop their operations, he will recapture rebel-held cities. Then massacres will take place.”

(Reporting by Joseph Nasr; Writing by Marie-Louise Gumuchian)

NATO strikes hit weapon depots near Zintan: resident