Battle of Wazzin

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Battle of Wazzin
Part of the 2011 Nafusa Mountains Campaign
Date21 April 2011 (First Phase)
24–28 April 2011 (Second Phase)
29 April – May 2011 (Third Phase)
11–29 July 2011 (Fourth Phase)
Location
Result

Tunisian/Anti-Gaddafi rebel victory

  • Loyalist forces occasionally shelled the crossing for months afterward.
  • Fighting ongoing after the Libyan Army clashes with the Tunisian Army
Territorial
changes
  • Rebel forces capture Wazzin on 21 April.
  • Loyalist forces retake the border crossing on 28 April.
  • Tenuous rebel hold on Wazzin by 4 May[2]
  • Belligerents

    Libya Anti-Gaddafi forces

    Libya Armed forces of the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya

     Tunisia[1]

    Commanders and leaders
    Mustafa Abdul Jalil Muammar Gaddafi Fouad Mebazaa
    Casualties and losses
    unknown
    (1st phase)
    3 killed
    (2nd phase)*[3]
    11 killed
    (3rd phase)[4]
    15 killed
    14 captured
    (1st phase)

    23 killed
    (3rd phase)[5]

    1 civilian wounded

    Several houses destroyed or damaged[6]
    *Unconfirmed report that up to 20 people in total had been killed on 28 April[7]

    The Battle of Wazzin was a conflict during the Libyan Civil War for the Libyan-Tunisian border town of Wazzin.[8][9] Rebel forces made an initial victory, but it was short lived as Gaddafi's men re-occupied the town, only to lose it again to the rebels.

    The battle spilled over into Tunisian territory on several occasions, prompting clashes with the Tunisian military (which had not explicitly taken a side in the battle).

    The fighting turned Wazzin into something of a ghost town, valuable only as a strategic location.[10]

    Background[edit]

    In the early days of the war, towns in the Nafusa Mountains quickly joined the uprising against Muammar Gaddafi, but soon came under heavy attack by loyalist forces. Wazzin was initially taken by rebels, but soon fell under the control of loyalists, cutting off this supply line to the rebel-held mountain towns. To relieve the military and humanitarian pressure on their besieged towns, the rebels fought to retake the crossing.[11]

    Battle[edit]

    On 21 April, rebel forces assaulted Wazzin but were met with fierce resistance by loyalist soldiers.[12] Their advances were initially slow but eventually they overwhelmed Gaddafi's men, taking the town of Wazzin before swiftly capturing the crossing itself, causing Gaddafi's men to be trapped in between the Tunisian border and the advancing rebels. In the end, 105 loyalist soldiers retreated into Tunisia where they surrendered to Tunisian officials.[13][14]

    All of Gaddafi's men returned to Libya without charge, however 13[15] men captured by the rebels remained in their hands.[16][17]

    With the border post in rebel hands, they began bringing supplies from Tunisia into the besieged towns of the Nafusa Mountains.

    On 24 April, loyalist forces began shelling the border post in an attempt to recapture it, though no casualties were reported.[18]

    On 28 April, loyalist forces re-captured the Wazzin border crossing with Tunisia after a swift advance in which they pushed the rebels back over the border into Tunisia where the fighting continued on the edge of the Tunisian border town of Dehiba.[19] State TV stated that several rebels were killed and others captured in the attack on the border post.[3] Later during the day, the rebels attempted a counter-attack.[20] Initially, they claimed having re-taken the post. However, Reuters denied it later by confirming that the loyalists were still in full control.[21] During the confusion, when it was thought that the rebels had won, scores of civilian vehicles attempted to re-enter Libya from Tunisia. But, they quickly turned back when they found Gaddafi's forces were still at the border crossing.[22] Heavy fighting continued into the night, with rebels apparently massing for a renewed attack against the better-armed loyalists[23] and during the evening the rebels once again claimed to had re-taken the crossing after they received reinforcements from Zintan. Still, this claim was also later found to be untrue.[24]

    The next morning, loyalist troops advanced from the crossing post of Wazzin in pursuit of the rebels, who had retreated onto Tunisian soil after a night of fighting, over the border and engaged them in the center of the town of Dehiba. Soon after that clashes between Gaddafi and Tunisian troops were reported. The Tunisian military soon seized loyalist troops and led them back over the border. At the same time, the rebels again claimed to have re-taken the border post.[1] However, Al Jazeera confirmed that the Gaddafi green flag of Libya was still flying over the border post thus proving that government troops were still in control.[25] Control of the post shifted back and forth in the following days.[26]

    Libyan Army enters Tunisia[edit]

    By 29 April, the situation on the border with Tunisia began deteriorating rapidly. Rebel forces were frequently using the border region as a way to evade capture by Gaddafi forces, as well as a principal resupply route.[27] In response, the loyalist forces launched an artillery barrage on the Tunisian town of Dehiba, and advanced across the border. Elements of the Tunisian Army and border police, who had only recently returned to their posts following the border violation on 28 April responded with deadly force to the incursion. By mid-afternoon, press reports came in stating that the Tunisian military was engaged in combat with the Libyan Army in central Dehiba. Later in the day fights between pro-Gaddafi forces and Tunisian army had ceased. The Tunisian military had captured and disarmed pro-Gaddafi soldiers and then sent them back to Libya.[1]

    As of 1 May, Gaddafi's forces were still shelling Tunisian territory, although no further casualties were reported.[28]

    On 7 May, renewed fighting in Wazzin lead to more shells falling in Tunisian territory, sparking mass evacuations in the border town of Dehiba. Roughly 100 shells fell in Tunisian territory causing one house to be damaged yet nobody was killed. The Tunisian authorities stated that the situation was 'very dangerous' and that they would do everything they had to in order to protect their country.

    Nine days later, on 16 May, Tunisian troops stopped 200 loyalist soldiers in 4×4s crossing into Tunisia to try to outflank the rebels. The soldiers cooperated and there was no confrontation.[29]

    On July 9, there were sketchy reports that Gaddafi's men were still attacking Wazzin[30][31] and of a large loyalist army amassing nearby, possibly with the intention of retaking the crossing.[32]

    On 29 July, rebels attacked loyalists in nearby Ayn Ghazaya. Heavy fighting ensued, and rebels shut down the crossing until it was more secure.[33]

    References[edit]

    1. ^ a b c Tarek Amara (29 April 2011). "Pro-Gaddafi forces clash with Tunisian military". Reuters. Reuters.
    2. ^ "Libyan Rebels Hang on to Strategic Border Crossing".
    3. ^ a b "Libyan forces overrun rebels on Tunisian border". Reuters. 28 April 2011. Retrieved 3 November 2014.
    4. ^ 1 killed (29 April),[1] 3 killed (17 May),[2] 7 killed (18 May),[3] total of 11 reported killed Archived 29 April 2011 at the Wayback Machine
    5. ^ "Reporter's Notebook - al Jazeera English". Archived from the original on 29 April 2011. Retrieved 29 April 2011. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
    6. ^ Noueihed, Lin (2 May 2011). "Libya says Gaddafi survives air strikes, but son killed". Stuff.co.nz. Retrieved 17 September 2011.
    7. ^ Ben Hubbard (28 April 2011). "Gadhafi forces shell frontline city in west Libya". DeseretNews.com. Retrieved 3 November 2014.
    8. ^ "Need to Know News: Two photographers killed in Libya; gas prices at all time high". CNN. 21 April 2011.
    9. ^ "#Today". 22 April 2011. Retrieved 3 November 2014.
    10. ^ Daragahi, Borzou (25 June 2011). "Libyan's western front joins battle". Los Angeles Times.
    11. ^ "Libya Rebels Claim Control over Tunisian Crossing". Retrieved 3 November 2014.
    12. ^ "Reporter's Notebook - al Jazeera English". Archived from the original on 21 April 2011. Retrieved 21 April 2011. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
    13. ^ "Libyan rebels seize western border post". Financial Times. Retrieved 3 November 2014.
    14. ^ "Reporter's Notebook - al Jazeera English". Archived from the original on 22 April 2011. Retrieved 22 April 2011. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
    15. ^ The Sydney Morning Herald http://www.smh.com.au/world/rebels-make-advances-seize-border-crossing-20110422-1drbr.html. Missing or empty |title= (help)[dead link]
    16. ^ "Libya says NATO strikes kill 15 civilians; alliance denies report". CNN. 25 June 2011. Archived from the original on 29 April 2011. Retrieved 22 April 2011. Cite uses deprecated parameter |dead-url= (help)
    17. ^ https://web.archive.org/web/20110424035236/http://www.agi.it/english-version/world/elenco-notizie/201104211843-cro-ren1081-libyan_insurgents_gain_control_of_border_pass. Archived from the original on 24 April 2011. Retrieved 22 April 2011. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help); Missing or empty |title= (help)
    18. ^ https://web.archive.org/web/20120923201001/http://www.thejakartaglobe.com/afp/misrata-fighting-rages-on-despite-tripoli-vow/437209. Archived from the original on 23 September 2012. Retrieved 25 April 2011. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help); Missing or empty |title= (help)
    19. ^ Libya Live Blog - April 28 Archived 28 April 2011 at the Wayback Machine
    20. ^ "New clashes between Libyans at Tunisia border post". Reuters. 28 April 2011. Retrieved 3 November 2014.
    21. ^ "Gaddafi forces still at Tunisia border -witness". Reuters. 28 April 2011. Retrieved 3 November 2014.
    22. ^ "WRAPUP 1-Libya angers Tunisia as war briefly crosses border". Reuters. 28 April 2011. Retrieved 3 November 2014.
    23. ^ AJE Libya Live Blog –April 28, 11:14PM Archived 28 April 2011 at the Wayback Machine
    24. ^ Rebels Register Small Gains in Western Libya
    25. ^ Libya Live Blog - April 29 12:20PM Archived 29 April 2011 at the Wayback Machine
    26. ^ "Libyan Rebels Hang on to Strategic Border Crossing".
    27. ^ Boudreaux, Richard (29 April 2011). "Gadhafi's Troops Chase Rebels Into Tunisia". The Wall Street Journal.
    28. ^ "Libyan artillery rounds land in Tunisian town". Reuters. 1 May 2011.
    29. ^ "Reporter's Notebook - al Jazeera English". Archived from the original on 11 May 2011. Retrieved 12 May 2011. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
    30. ^ "Gadhafi forces pound Berber towns". UPI. Retrieved 3 November 2014.
    31. ^ "Gadhafi forces shell rebels south of Tripoli". The Daily Star Newspaper - Lebanon. Retrieved 3 November 2014.
    32. ^ "Gaddafi to go claim 'wishful thinking'".
    33. ^ F_474. "Amid heavy fighting, Libyan insurgents close down border post with Tunisia". Retrieved 3 November 2014.

    Coordinates: 31°56′32″N 10°39′45″E / 31.94222°N 10.66250°E / 31.94222; 10.66250