Page last updated at 17:20 GMT, Sunday, 27 March 2011 18:20 UK

Libya and Mid-East crisis as it happened: Sunday

  • Rebel forces in Libya have captured another town, Bin Jawad, as they advance rapidly westwards against forces loyal to Col Muammar Gaddafi. They earlier captured the oil town of Ras Lanuf and Brega.
  • A rebel commander has told the BBC that government troops are in full retreat and are running for their lives.
  • The Libyan rebels say they could begin exporting oil in less than a week. A rebel spokesman said oil fields in territory under opposition control were already producing more than a 100,000 barrels of crude a day.
  • France says it destroyed at least five Pro-Gaddafi war planes and two helicopters at a base near Misrata
  • Two people have been shot dead in the Syrian city of Latakia during anti-government protests on Saturday
  • Yemeni officials says President Ali Abdullah Saleh is "negotiating his departure" in talks with the opposition
  • You can also follow developments on BBC Arabic
  • All times GMT. Live page reporters: Anna Jones and David Gritten

1710We're now wrapping up our live updates on Libya and the Middle East for the day. Thanks for following our rolling coverage. You can continue to get all the latest news developments via the front page of the BBC News website.

1703The BBC's Ben Brown in Ras Lanuf says: "It's been a remarkable day for the rebels. After seizing Ajdabiya, they have advanced westwards alsong the coastal highway at breakneck speed. Town after town as fallen to them - Brega, Ugayla, Ras Lanuf and Bin Jawad. It has been hard at times for us to keep up with them. The rebels are in a state of high excitement, exhilarated. They can hardly believe the progress they have made. They have been firing their guns into the air in celebration, blaring their horns, screeching their tires and doing wheel-spins. But the truth is that they never would have made this breakthrough if it had not been for the devastating coalition air strikes outside Ajdabiya on Thursday and Friday. They destroyed dozens of Col Gaddafi's tanks, armoured vehicles and artillery pieces. The rebels claim that on Monday they could be in Sirte - Col Gaddafi's birthplace and heartland. Yet, the closer they advance towards Tripoli, the more of a fight the regime is likely to put up. Today may have been the easy part."

1700Rebel forces in Libya have captured another town, Bin Jawad, as they advance rapidly westwards against forces loyal to Colonel Gaddafi. They say government troops are in full retreat and are running for their lives.

1657Security officials in Yemen have said at least six soldiers were killed in an attack by gunmen with suspected links to al-Qaeda on Sunday. The incident took place east of the capital, Sanaa, in Marib province. The area is one of Yemen's main oil producing regions and has been a militant stronghold.

1655Earlier, US Defence Secretary Robert Gates said the fall of President Saleh, or his replacement by a weaker leader, would pose "problems" for the US. "The most aggressive branch of al-Qaeda... operates out of Yemen," he said. "We have had a lot of counter-terrorism co-operation from President Saleh and the Yemeni security services, so if the government collapses or is replaced by one that is dramatically more weak, then I think we'll face some additional problems out of Yemen."

1653Meanwhile, the central committee of Yemen's ruling General People's Congress party has recommended forming a new government "tasked with drafting a new constitution for the country on the basis of a parliamentary system", state media report.

1647The Reuters news agency says a convoy of 20 military vehicles, including truck-mounted anti-aircraft guns, have been seen leaving Col Gaddafi's stronghold of Sirte and heading westwards towards the capital, Tripoli. Dozens of civilian cars carrying families and loaded with people's belongings were also seen fleeing. Rebels have reportedly reached Nufilia, only 100km (60 miles) east of Sirte.

1641Libyan state TV is also reporting that "hundreds of thousands demonstrated in London yesterday to say we are with you against this war and we oppose the conspiracy hatched against Libya", according to BBC Monitoring. To back its claim with "facts", it showed pictures of protesters carrying green flags and chanting pro-Gaddafi slogans near the Palace of Westminster.

1635Libyan state television reports that the western city of Misrata is "now secure". "Counterterrorism units arrest the terrorist gangs which terrorised civilians in Misrata. The city is now secure and life is going back to normal," a caption says.

1628The rebels told AFP that they would halt their advance overnight at Nufilia because they had heard Col Gaddafi's troops were deployed about 50km (30 miles) down the road towards Sirte. They would wait for coalition air strikes to destroy any heavy weapons, they added.

1624A rebel fighter in Bin Jawad, Mohamed Ali al-Atwish, said the Libyan leader's troops were now "scared rats". "They are dropping their weapons, their uniforms and dressing as civilians," he added. Most of the small town looked intact, although smoke poured from the house of an alleged Gaddafi sympathiser, an AFP correspondent said. Some rebels feared that government troops might be hiding in people's homes.

1620Meanwhile in eastern Libya, rebels have seized control of Bin Jawad - the furthest westwards they have advanced since the uprising began in mid-February. The AFP news agency reports that about 100 fighters danced and fired into the air in celebration in the town centre, singing: "Muammar, you're a dog - we marched straight into Bin Jawad." The rebels said they had also taken the next town along the coast, Nufilia, only 100km (60 miles) from Sirte, Col Gaddafi's stronghold.

1611The Misrata resident tells the BBC that Gaddafi loyalists are in control of the People's Hall in the city centre and that they have deployed snipers on the building's roof.

1607A resident of Misrata also tells the BBC: "With such random explosions and blasts you're not safe at all, even in your home. And this is the tragedy: the situation is getting worse day after day. The people and civilians are pushed towards the sea. Almost 60% of the entire city is under the control of Gaddafi's troops and mercenaries. The people are trying to look for a safe place to shelter themselves from the tanks and snipers, even though there is no safe place."

1604Back to Libya now: forces loyal to Col Gaddafi are fighting with rebels in the centre of the western city of Misrata, a rebel tells the Reuters news agency. "All day long we heard clashes between rebels and Gaddafi forces in the area of Tripoli street, in the city centre," Sami says. "We heard tanks, mortars and light weapons being used. This is still going on now." One person was killed by sniper fire on Saturday, he adds. "There are no casualties so far today but given there were heavy clashes today we could still have casualties. The rebels want to press ahead with their assault and force Gaddafi's men out of the city all together. But we need more time because of the snipers positioned on rooftops."

1603Our correspondent adds: "The stirring of dissent in Syria does not yet seem to have reached the point of no return - but it's looking pretty close. Serious changes may need to be made if it's to be headed off. But there are questions about just how much authority the president himself wields, within a regime that's heavy with the old guard of his father's Baath Party, and powerful vested interests within his own close family."

1600The BBC's Jim Muir reports: "The government sent large numbers of army troops into Latakia overnight to impose order, while Syrian state TV broadcast pictures of burnt-out buses and smashed shops. The trouble is being officially blamed on 'armed gangs' and 'outside hands' trying to shake stability and national unity. But with disturbances reported from towns and cities in many parts of the country, the government is clearly aware of the need to take steps to meet popular grievances. More detainees and political prisoners have been released. Sweeping political and economic reforms have been promised, but are yet to materialise. President Bashar al-Assad, facing his gravest crisis since taking over when his father Hafez died in 2000, is expected to address the nation soon."

1557Dozens of pro-democracy protesters have been killed in clashes with security forces in Deraa, Latakia, Damascus and other towns in the past week. The Syrian interior ministry has urged people to ignore text messages and leaflets calling on people to attend a demonstration in Umayyad Square in the capital on Sunday night. The ministry said the calls were "tendentious" and "untruthful".

1548Syria's official news agency, Sana, has published a report about the clashes in Latakia. A source told it that 10 people, including members of the security forces, were killed by armed gangs. Two gunmen also died. About 200 people were wounded. "The armed gangs attacked private and public properties and service institutions, broke into shops, stormed some houses and terrorised citizens in their homes," it quoted the source as saying.

1642 Wissam Tarif tweets about more alleged arrests in Syria: "2 Syrians, One Spaniard, 2 American Nationals detained, not clear if Journalists or amateurs filming protests on Mobiles."

1539Meanwhile, al-Arabiya TV is reporting that Syria's government is expected to resign on Tuesday; that the Baath Party Regional Command will abolish the emergency law after a new counter-terrorism law has been drafted; that Article 8 of the constitution, which defines the Baath Party as the "leading party in the society and the state", has been amended; and that a new media law "preventing the imperilment of reporters" has been endorsed.

1533At Mr Saad's funeral, many people chanted "The prime minister is the enemy of God", according to the Associated Press. The opposition wants Maarouf al-Bakhit to resign, parliament to be dissolved and elections to be held. The new legislature would then appoint a prime minister, rather than King Abdullah II.

1527Mr Saad's brother, Saeed, has told the Associated Press that he was a follower of the Muslim Brotherhood's political arm in Jordan, the Islamic Action Front, and not a government supporter. The 55-year-old was bringing food to a group of people encamped outside the interior ministry "when police beat him to death", he added. "I saw blood on his face when we took him to the morgue for an autopsy. There were clear marks of torture and beatings on his face."

1522Meanwhile in Jordan, thousands of people have attended the funeral of the man who was killed during clashes between anti-government protesters and security forces on Friday, the Ammon News website reports. Khairi Jamil Saad died after troops tried to disperse demonstrators gathered outside the interior ministry. Officials say he died as a result of a cardiac arrest. Protesters say he was badly beaten.

1515The pan-Arab newspaper also said that to counter the threat of aerial bombardment of his forces, Col Gaddafi decided last week to organise a "one-million-strong march on Benghazi with demonstrators carrying olive branches". The march was reportedly called off because of fears that the rebels would open fire.

1509The Libyan military official also dismissed reports of desertion and indiscipline in the ranks. On Saturday night, a decree signed by the supreme commander of the armed forces, which was broadcast by state television, stated that all security personnel who confronted the "crusader colonial aggression" would be promoted, al-Sharq al-Awsat reported.

1507Despite the rebel advance, a Libyan military official in Tripoli has told the al-Sharq al-Awsat newspaper that the Western-led coalition's air and missile strikes have not reduced the capabilities of Col Gaddafi's troops. "As long as there are no land forces on the ground, let the bombardment continue. The situation is settled in the field, not by way of planes and missiles," he said.

1501 CNN's Nic Robertson tweets: "Libyan govt officials seem shocked at rebel advance. Army losses NOT shown on state TV"

1456Nato would strictly limit the use of force to the protection of civilians and populated areas in Libya, diplomats tell the AFP news agency. The alliance is preparing to take over military operations in Libya.

1453Mr Tarhouni says the main obstacle to selling the oil will be finding shipping companies willing to sail to rebel-held territory, and firms willing to insure their tankers.

1451Ali Tarhouni says the deal between the rebel council and Qatar, which is taking part in the no-fly zone operation, to sell oil produced in eastern Libya will help ensure "access to liquidity in terms of foreign-denominated currency". "We contacted the oil company of Qatar and they agreed to take all the oil we export and market that oil for us. We have an escrow account... and the money will be deposited in this account. This way there is no middle man and we know where the money is going."

1440The Libyan economy is heavily dependent on the hydrocarbon industry which, according to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), accounted for 95% of export earnings in 2010. According to the Oil and Gas Journal (OGJ), Libya holds around 46.4bn barrels of oil reserves, the largest in Africa. In 2010, total oil production was close to 1.8m barrels per day. Resuming exports would provide the rebel Transitional National Council with vital income to purchase basic supplies and pay civil servants.

1438More on oil production in eastern Libya: Ali Tarhouni, a rebel official in charge of economic, financial and oil matters, tells reporters: "We have made a deal with Qatar. Our next shipment will be in less than a week." Mr Tarhouni says oil production could be increased from the current level of between 100,000 and 130,000 barrels per day to 300,000 barrels per day.

1433 ChangeInLibya tweets: "Benghazi Free Radio is pleading with the honourable and courageous people inside Sirte to rise up against Gaddafi & welcome us #libya #feb17"

1424Oil fields in rebel-held eastern Libya are producing between 100,000 and 130,000 barrels of oil per day, a rebel official tells the AFP news agency. Oil exports should begin "in less than a week", the official adds.

1419Khaled, from Manchester, writes: "My family in Zawiya told me right from the start of the uprising that the city was cut from all medical and food supplies. I hope that coalition forces target troops surrounding this city urgently and protect its civilian population."
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1413Despite the rumoured ceasefire offer, Col Gaddafi's forces are again shelling the rebel-held western city of Misrata, a resident called Saadoun has told the Reuters news agency. "Misrata is under attack, the city and the port area where thousands of workers are. We don't know whether it's artillery or mortars," he added.

1406When asked about Saif al-Islam Gaddafi's alleged offer to lead Libya during its transition towards democracy, a representative of the rebel Transitional National Council told al-Sharq al-Awsat: "This is a new political manoeuvre, and we will not participate in it in any way. If Gaddafi wants a solution, then he should relinquish authority immediately. Otherwise, let him wait for us as we are coming to him in his headquarters whether in Sirte or Tripoli."

1404Libyan and Arab sources have meanwhile told al-Sharq al-Awsat that Col Muammar Gaddafi is seeking to convince Western powers to accept a plan which would see him cede powers to his son, Saif al-Islam, for a transitional period of two to three years in return for a ceasefire. A Libyan official the pan-Arab newspaper that Saif al-Islam Gaddafi had discussed the proposal with US, British and Italian diplomats. He is said to have also wanted assurances that the Gaddafi family would not face prosecution.

1402Syrian state television is now reporting that President Bashar al-Assad will address the nation in the next few days, rather than hours.

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1355Kim writes: "The 'loyalist' troops have demonstrated repeatedly and without fail that they will attack civilians whenever given the opportunity: This makes ALL Gaddafi military forces legitimate targets under the UN resolution."

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1353 Steven in the UK writes: "I think claims of 'protecting civilians' are un-true. The coalition seems to be purely seeking regime change and should admit this. Surely, the footage showing the rebels firing artillery shells and rockets in a seemingly random way is just as much of a threat to civilian lives as the attacks of pro-Gaddafi forces and so are equally worthy of coalition attack."

1347US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has said the world should not expect military intervention in Syria to protect civilians as there has been in Libya. "Each of these situations is unique," she told CBS. "What's been happening there the last few weeks is deeply concerning, but there's a difference between calling out aircraft and indiscriminately strafing and bombing your own cities, and police actions which frankly have exceeded the use of force that any of us would want to see."

1341The Syrian Human Rights Committee (SHRC) has said the emergency law is "the most repressive law [affecting] the rights and freedoms of all Syrian citizens without exception". It is believed to have led directly to thousands of violations of human rights.

1339Syria's emergency law designates the prime minister as the martial law governor of the country and the interior minister as his deputy, and gives them extraordinary powers. These include the ability to place restrictions on freedoms of individuals with respect to meetings, residence, travel and passage in specific places or at particular times; to preventatively arrest anyone suspected of endangering public security and order; to authorise investigation of persons and places; and to delegate any person to perform any of these tasks.

1331Syria's emergency law, which effectively suspends most constitutional protections, has been in place since the Baath Party came to power in a military coup. Syrian governments have justified the continued imposition of the law by the state of war that continues to exist with Israel, and by continuing threats posed by militant groups.

1327Syria's Minister of State for Political and Media Affairs, Buthaina Shaaban, tells al-Jazeera that the country's emergency laws, in place since 1963, will be lifted. But she declines to set out a timetable.

1322More from US Defence Secretary Robert Gates: He tells ABC that the "regime change" is not part of the coalition's mission in Libya because past experience has shown it can be a "very complicated business". "Sometimes it takes a long time; sometimes it can happen very fast."

1317Our correspondent adds: "The rebels we have been following have been in a state of high excitement. They are absolutely delighted with the progress they have been making. They have been celebrating by firing their weapons into the air, doing wheel-spins in their vehicles. But their progress may start to get harder, as they will eventually reach Col Gaddafi's heartland of Sirte. At some stage, Col Gaddafi's supporters are going to draw a line in the sand, and start to put up a fight."

1314The BBC's Ben Brown in the eastern Libyan town of Ras Lanuf says: "There has been an extraordinary advance by the rebels. It follows the capture of Ajdabiya on Saturday in the wake of allied air strikes on pro-Gaddafi forces surrounding the town. Since then, the rebels have been moving forward very fast, heading westwards on the coastal road, taking town after town. They have seized Brega, Uqayla and now Ras Lanuf. The towns have fallen almost, it seems, without a shot being fired. A rebel commander we spoke to along the way claimed that Col Gaddafi's forces were in full retreat and running for their lives."

1309UK Defence Secretary Liam Fox earlier told the BBC that if a political agreement was reached, it would see Nato take over military operations in coming days. "[It] doesn't actually mean that Nato will take over immediately. There's an execution directive... if that's successful tonight, over the next few days Nato will take complete command," he said.

1304A high-level body to include Arab states, which will provide Nato with "broad political guidance" on Libya, is expected to emerge from an international conference in London on Tuesday, the Nato official adds.

1303Nato states should agree within hours for the alliance to take over command of military operations in Libya from a coalition led by the US, UK and France, a Nato official tells the Reuters news agency. The matter is likely to be decided at a meeting of Nato ambassadors at about 1600 GMT. Nato's military committee has finalised its operations plan. "That's a good sign," the official says. "Either the operations plan is approved by the ambassadors tonight, or that may happen tomorrow. Either way, it's a matter of hours."

1258Mrs Clinton also tells CBS that she "deplores" the violence in Syria. But, she says, nobody should expect the US to intervene in Syria in the same way as it has in Libya.

1252US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton tells CBC that there are "a lot of diplomats and military leaders in Libya who are flipping, changing sides, defecting". Defence Secretary Robert Gates adds: "Don't underestimate the potential for elements of the regime themselves to crack."

1246Libyan rebels have retaken control of the town of Bin Jawad, 525km (330 miles) east of Tripoli, the Reuters news agency reports. A correspondent says he saw more than two dozen rebel pick-up trucks mounted with machine guns in the town centre. Fighters were shooting in the air in celebration. The rebels said they planned to push on towards Col Gaddafi's stronghold of Sirte to the west.

1243Mr Gates meanwhile tells NBC that "we clearly have interests" in Libya, though not any "vital" interests. However, the North African state is part of a region that is of vital intest to the United States, he explains.

1237US Defence Secretary Robert Gates tells ABC News that he does not think Libya posed an actual threat to the United States before the military intervention began last weekend. But in addition to threatening civilians, he says, the turmoil could have undermined the recent democratic revolutions in neighbouring Egypt and Tunisia. "That was another consideration I think we took into account," he adds.

1229 "An immediate ceasefire, enforcement of the arms embargo and the no-fly zone and protection of civilians remain crucial," AFP quoted the Foreign Office as saying. "But we also need to look to the future."

1226 The UK Foreign Office says foreign ministers from 35 countries have said they will attend a conference in London on Tuesday to discuss the military action. Attendees will be from "a wide and inclusive range of countries and international organisations that have demonstrated a commitment to a better future for the people of Libya", said the FCO.

1222 The woman's claims are being investigated, but Mr Miller said: "I do not believe for one moment that this woman is secure and feels comfortable in the custody of the criminal investigations bureau". Government spokesman Moussa Ibrahim has told reporters he has visited her and that she is well, but he also suggested she had a poor reputation and had brought the situation on herself, said Mr Miller.

1215 Channel 4 correspondent Jonathan Miller has been speaking to the BBC about an incident on Saturday when a very distressed woman burst into the foreign journalists' hotel in Tripoli saying she had been raped by Col Gaddafi's troops. After clashes in the hotel lobby, she was taken away by police.

1211 Syrian government officials say President Bashar al-Assad will address the nation soon, AFP reports.

1208 The BBC's Ben Brown in eastern Libya says the rebels are in a state of high excitement as they move westwards, firing their guns into the air and performing wheel spins as they drive off.

1158 Our 1123 entry mistakenly referred to Moussa Ibrahim as a rebel spokesman. He is in fact a spokesman for the Libyan government. This has now been corrected.

1155 A rebel commander told the BBC's Ben Brown the government forces are "running for their lives".

1151 The BBC can confirm that Ras Lanuf is now in rebel hands.

1140 Jack, Europe tweets: "What is necessary in Libya is the implementation of a well-fortified democracy. France's acknowledgment of NatCouncil is the right way."

1148 BBC foreign editor Jon Williams tweets: "Reports from Ras Lanuf say little damage to town: fighting mainly at oil refinery on outskirts. Gaddafi forces now around Bin Jawad."

1146 He said there was no let-up in the violence in the town. "At 8am Gaddafi's forces started shelling Misrata again and the snipers are still here, wreaking havoc and terrorising people in the street. I want the international community to know there is no ceasefire in Misrata. I also want to express our deep gratitude to the international community for their efforts. They are life savers - they really have saved thousand of lives."

1144 A resident of Misrata has told the BBC a huge ammunition depot was hit last night. "It kept blowing up all night because of the ammunitions inside, it was quite spectacular. We are relieved that it has been destroyed."

1136 We also have a useful interactive map, giving an overview of the the main events country by country.

1133 If you want more information on the ongoing protests in countries including Yemen, Syria and Jordan, our Arab Unrest special report page has lots of analysis, video reports, eyewitness accounts and the latest news from the region.

1128 Some news from Syria - government officials are saying 12 people died in unrest in Latakia on Saturday. AFP quotes presidential adviser Buthaina Shaaban as saying the dead were 10 members of the security forces and two gunmen.

1126 "Rockets and bombs will make the country like Iraq, civil war, de-stability, misery," said Mr Ibrahim. "People are feeling bitter, are feeling hateful, angry, and this is not a good atmosphere for democracy."

1123 Moussa Ibrahim, a spokesman for the Libyan government, told the BBC the foreign intervention could lead to instability. "It's not the first time you are attacking a country to implement democracy, and it's not the first time you are failing. Our destiny we decide ourselves through and within the political and social and economic system of Libya."

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1119 Ken, from Penrith, NSW, Australia, writes: "I hope that UN parties do not consider a deal for the safe extraction of Gaddafi or his cronies from Libya. He and his associates should be brought to justice. No compromise should be made in that regard. I am proud of the way the coalition and the rebellious Libyans are progressing with regard to a more democratic life for all Libyans."

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1116 Stewart, from Bishop Auckland, UK, writes: "What will the Western aircraft do when the rebels reach Sirte? It's common knowledge that the majority of civilians in Sirte are pro-Gaddafi, so when the rebels reach Sirte, how can the western aircraft justify using military force there? They'll be bombing targets who are defending the local population, not attacking them as in the Eastern cities."

1112 The regime also knows the foreign coalition can not do much more than attack their weapons at the moment. Their remit currently does not allow them to provide fuel or arms for the rebels.

1108 Our correspondent in Tripoli says the government there is unlikely to be too concerned by the rebel advance in the east. It is a long way from Ras Lanuf to Sirte, a city the regime is more confident it can hold.

1105 Libyan4life tweets: "We have #RasLanuf! AllawhoAkbar [God is great], here we come #BenJawad!"

1053 A rebel fighter tells Reuters: "There is no Gaddafi army in Ras Lanuf."

1042 An AFP correspondent in Ras Lanuf says the town is entirely in rebel hands. "They are manning checkpoints in and out of the city and are pursuing Gaddafi forces west."

1030 "At moments of the highest tension, it becomes more urgent to use every diplomatic method available and to support even the weakest signal of openness and of willingness for reconciliation from all sides involved," said the Pope.

1028 More from the Pope, who is delivering his Sunday blessing at the Vatican. He said that faced with the "ever more dramatic news" from Libya, his concern over the safety of the civilian population is growing, as is his "fear for how the situation is developing with the use of arms".

1024 Another of the wounded soldiers told AFP he too wanted to switch sides. "Why not? Gaddafi is just one person. But the country is important."

1020 An AFP reporter has visited a hospital in Benghazi where he found injured regime soldiers being treated by the rebels. The soldiers said they felt they had been lied to by Col Gaddafi. "I was loyal, now I'm not, after finding out the truth about the fighting," said one. "In Benghazi I found young people making a revolution to escape from the darkness they were living in."

1015 Pope Benedict XVI has referred to events in Libya in his Sunday blessing, says Reuters. Addressing his words to "those who hold military and political responsibility" he called for the "suspension of the use of arms".

1013 Our main news story now focuses on the rebels' advance westward across the country.

1010 "It may be the rebels' campaign, which has been so rapid in the last few hours, comes to a bit of a halt after Ras Lanuf," says our correspondent. "The next stop is Sirte which is full of Gaddafi loyalists - it's his stronghold, his birthplace and you can't see that city giving up without a fight."

1002 The BBC'S Ben Brown near Uqayla says the rebel advance seems to be moving very quickly. A rebel commander has told him Ras Lanuf is firmly in their hands and they are now combing the streets to ensure no Gaddafi forces are left there.

1001 A quick note for readers in the UK - although the country moved to British Summer Time overnight we are still publishing in GMT, so the time of entries on this page will appear as an hour behind.

0956 UK Defence Secretary Liam Fox said the military action would stop "when the regime stops injuring and killing civilians" but that if Col Gaddafi left power "that, of course, is a bonus". Here's our full story on Dr Fox's interview with the BBC this morning.

0948 Europe has been divided over what action to take in Libya, with Germany resisting the military option. "In these difficult days, Europe has perhaps lost some pieces," said Mr Frattini. "We don't want to lose Germany and an evolution towards a ceasefire will make it easier to see its re-entry. We will work to walk this last stretch of the road together. We will try to keep Europe together."

0946 In an interview with La Repubblica, Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini has said Italy and Germany are preparing a joint proposal on Libya which would involve a ceasefire, exile for Col Gaddafi and the creation of a humanitarian corridor.

0942 Mr Alexander added: "Frankly it is preferable to be in circumstances this week where we are discussing a range of outcomes, than talking about the one outcome that was otherwise certain, which was the slaughter of the Benghazi people."

0940 More from UK Shadow Foreign Secretary Douglas Alexander - he told the BBC's Andrew Marr: "We cannot with certainty know how this is going to end, and those of us who did support the government, not with enthusiasm but with resolve, last week, have to have the humility to acknowledge that."

0938 AFP correspondents in Ras Lanuf say rebels have retaken the key oil town. We'll bring you more on this as we get it.

0924 BBC foreign editor Jon Williams tweets: "S[unday] Times reporting "UK prepares to arm #Libya rebels". Talking to @foreignoffice officials on Fri, v clear they have no plans to do so...Senior official pointed to lesson of Afghanistan - they fear some rebels in #Libya hv own agenda. Arming them could return to haunt west."

0918 More from Liam Fox, who has just been speaking to the BBC's Andrew Marr. He said that if the Libyan rebels continue to move along the coast retaking ground they will increasingly control the country's oil ports. "That will produce a very different dynamic and a different equilibrium inside Libya."

0917 The BBC's Ben Brown in eastern Libya says the rebel army, while full of passion, remains unorganised and inefficient. They fired huge amounts of ammunition into the air on retaking Ajdabiya, effectively squandering it despite having many more battles to come.

0910 UK Defence Secretary Liam Fox said Nato was moving fast on Libya. "To do all of this in eight days with the agreement of 28 countries is quite an achievement. They've already agreed to do the humanitarian operations if asked, the no-fly zone and now the protection of civilians which is the last part of that jigsaw, that could be in place tonight if things go well, and I'm relatively optimistic about that."

0907 Although they're racing down this road now, Tripoli still seems a very long way off," says our correspondent.

0905 The rebels have had a huge confidence boost by the retaking of Ajdabiya and Brega, he says. But if they reach the Gaddafi stronghold of Sirte they are likely to find much greater resistance and their supply lines will be severely stretched.

0902 The BBC's Ben Brown near Brega says there is no sign of Gaddafi forces in the area. The front line now seems to be at Uqayla, he says, where rebel forces are now heading.

0900 The BBC can confirm that rebel forces have retaken Brega.

0853 Dr Liam Fox said he expects an agreement to emerge in Brussels later today for Nato to take complete control of the military operation in Libya.

0850 Shadow Foreign Secretary Douglas Alexander tells the BBC that UN resolution 1973 also sanctions non-military means of putting pressure on the regime and that the coalition must work on diplomatic as well as military track.

0849 Dr Fox said finding a political solution to the unrest in Yemen was important as the country - where al-Qaeda is active - represents "a major terrorist threat to the UK".

0844 The UK's Defence Secretary Liam Fox tells the BBC's Andrew Marr: "We're not arming the rebels and we're not planning to arm rebels". He says the coalition has intervened "on the sides of the civilians so that hopefully they can sleep in their beds at night without wondering whether the regime is going to murder them".

0820 Mr Gates told CBS News: "The truth of the matter is we have trouble coming up with proof of any civilian casualties that we have been responsible for."

0819 US Defence Secretary Robert Gates has said there is evidence Col Gaddafi's troops have been collecting bodies killed in their attacks and moving them to the site of coalition strikes, to claim they have been killed by international action.

0815 A doctor in Misrata told the BBC overnight the city had suffered one of the strongest attacks since the start of the conflict. "Gaddafi troops are using new tactics to avoid being hit, they are using civilians and buildings as shields to hide their tanks. The troops are using civilian vehicles instead of tanks, using live machine guns instead of artillery. Once we hear the sounds of aircraft they stop attacking, because they are hiding. But once the planes go they start bombing again."

0813 The BBC's Ben Brown in eastern Libya says rebels appear to have encountered little resistance as they retook Brega. Gaddafi forces retreated back towards Ras Lanuf. The question now, says our correspondent, is where the Gaddafi troops will decide to draw the line - it could be in Ras Lanuf or further west in the leader's stronghold of Sirte, a much larger city.

0811 Dr MohjaKahf tweets: "Freedom:Tunis made it thinkable.#Egypt made it doable.#Libya made it terrible (Gaddafi's fault).#Yemen made it singable.#Syria will make it."

0810 A reminder that all our backgrounders, Q and As, eyewitness reports, interactive maps and analysis can be found on our Libya crisis special report page.

0808 The rebels says the oil port of Brega is now also under their control, although this has been hard to verify. One rebel fighter told Reuters that Col Gaddafi had pulled his forces out of Ajdabiya and Brega "so that he puts all his weight in attacking Misrata and winning so he can control the whole west versus losing the whole east".

0806 The town also has huge military significance, he says, as it is considered the gateway to the west, where Col Gaddafi is stronger.

0804 The BBC's Ben Brown in eastern Libya says there were wild celebrations last night when the rebels captured Ajdabiya. "Rebel fighters firing their guns into the air, blaring their car horns, hugging each other and waving flags. They say Ajdabiya is a town that has been terrorised by Gaddafi loyalists but that now it has been liberated."

0802 Overnight, French fighter aircraft destroyed five Libyan air force jets and two helicopters. The aircraft were on the ground at a base in Misrata, said a French military spokesman, and had been preparing to launch attacks on the besieged city.

0800 Welcome to the BBC's live coverage of events in Libya and unrest across the Middle East and North Africa. Stay with us for the latest updates - reports from our correspondents on the ground, expert analysis, and your reaction from around the world. You can contact us via email, text or twitter. We'll publish what we can.

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