Today has been a big day for Libya in both fighting on the ground and international and domestic policy debates. Rebels today advanced in Misrata, taking the town's airport, but Muammar Qaddafi's forces continue to hold most of the western part of the country. Meanwhile, NATO air assaults continue even as decision-makers in the United Nations and the U.S. Congress seek to end Western involvment. Here's a snapshot of what's happening vis-a-vis Libya, on the ground and in the halls of power.
The Battle for Misrata: In Misrata, which has been largely under rebel control and under siege by government forces for weeks, rebels appear to have taken the government-held airport. The BBC reports that the airport fell today "after hours of fighting between rebels and pro-Gaddafi forces overnight." The New York Times' C.J. Chivers is also reporting that the rebels are have seized the airport. He notes that gaining control of the facility "would be one of the most significant rebel victories in the Libyan conflict."
Death Squad in Benghazi? A report in the Times today raised the specter of a death squad carrying out revenge killings in the rebel stronghold of Benghazi, in the country's east. Rebel leaders have denied that their security forces had anything to do with the attacks. Reporter Kareem Fahim writes that "prosecutors here say they are investigating at least four attacks, including another murder in March, and they are exploring the possible involvement of Islamists who were imprisoned by the Qaddafi government and are now settling old scores."
U.N. Calls for Cease-Fire: As war rages through Libyan cities with NATO supplying air power to rebel forces, U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon called for an immediate cease-fire. According to the Washington Post, NATO has said it would welcome a cease-fire, but just yesterday it ramped up its aerial attacks in a coordinated push with rebel fighters to destroy government command-and-control facilities. According to the Associated Press, Ban said Libyan prime minister Baghdadi al-Mahmoudi had agreed to receive a U.N. envoy to talk about a possible peace deal, and "Poland said Foreign Minister Radek Sikorski was traveling to meet rebel forces in the eastern city of Benghazi."
House Committee Calls for War Documents: The House Armed Services Committee today voted up a resolution calling for the Pentagon to provide documentation on its communications with Congress. Politico's Charles Hoskinson characterized the measure as "a sign that lawmakers have not let go of concerns that they were not adequately notified when [President Barack] Obama ordered U.S. military forces into action on March 19." Under the War Powers Act, if Congress approves no extension to the U.S. operation in Libya, the president will have to withdraw troops as of May 20.