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Monday, May 2, 2011     INTELLIGENCE BRIEFING

Gadhafi's forces in pursuit of rebels cross border into Tunisia

CAIRO — The Libyan civil war has spilled into neighboring Tunisia.


The Libyan Army has crossed into Tunisia in a battle that damaged the border town of Dehiba. Officials said forces loyal to Libyan Col. Moammar Gadhafi entered Tunisia in pursuit of rebels.

"The Tunisian Army intervened and stopped the advance of some members of Gadhafi's forces who were rounded up and returned to Libyan territory," the Tunisian Defense Ministry said on April 29.

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This marked the first time Gadhafi forces, backed by artillery and armored combat vehicles, entered Tunisia. Tunisia, which ousted its longtime president in February, has been accused by the Tripoli regime of harboring and aiding the rebel movement.

Officials said the Libyan Army entered Tunisia as part of an operation to destroy the rebel movement in the Western Mountains. They said Gadhafi forces have been successful in capturing rebel positions throughout the region, forcing the anti-regime fighters to flee into nearby Tunisia.

"The situation is under control and there is no reason for alarm," the Tunisian Defense Ministry said.

The ministry urged Tunisians in Dehiba and the rest of the border region to "show restraint and vigilance, so as to help the Tunisian armed forces manage the situation correctly." The statement did not elaborate.

Earlier, Gadhafi forces captured a post along the Libyan border with Tunisia. In late April, the rebels claimed that they repelled the Libyan Army and retook the border position.

Officials said the Tunisian Army has been ordered to send reinforcements to Dehiba and other areas that border Libya. They said the troops would also protect Libyan refugees who sought haven in Tunisia.

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