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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Libyan Rebels Breach Brega

July 16, 2011

Libyan rebels say they breached the strategic town of Brega overnight, after dozens of countries gave rebels a political boost by officially recognizing Libya's rebel Transitional National Council as the legitimate authority of the North African nation.

Rebels said Saturday their forces entered the front-line oil town and were preparing for a renewed offensive later in the day. They have reported a number of casualties from the recent fighting.

The battles raged as more than 30 countries, including the United States, recognized the rebels' TNC Friday and declared Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi politically illegitimate.

Western and regional powers made the declaration in Istanbul as they met to map strategies to strengthen the Libyan opposition group in its bid to oust Gadhafi from his 42-year reign.

Gadhafi dismissed the significance of the diplomatic recognition in an audio speech broadcast to thousands of supporters in the town Zlitan.

He called on supporters to "trample" on those "worthless" recognitions.

The international officials said they would deal with the rebel council as the legitimate governing authority in Libya until a new interim authority is installed.

The diplomatic recognition by the international Contact Group on Libya gives the rebels significant new official standing in the world, and important new funding. Several Western powers had already recognized the rebels.

The U.S. and its allies will be able to help fund the rebels with part of the Libyan assets they have seized over the last several months, including more than $30 billion frozen in American banks.

Until now, the U.S. government, while participating in the NATO-led air attacks on Gadhafi's military operations, has provided financial assistance for refugees and non-lethal aid for the rebels.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who traveled to Istanbul, said the Obama administration will assist in planning for a post-Gadhafi, democratic Libya and help with humanitarian financial assistance to the Libyan people.

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

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