"it is human lives and blood being shed - right now."
Ahmed @9:30 AM libya time AJ live
A Libyan rebel fighter wraps himself in heavy machine gun ammo before heading to battle against pro Gaddafi forces, some 40km down the road of the northern central city of Ras Lanuf [AFP]
UPDATE 3:14 PST
After a fierce dawn battle in Az Zawiyah, reports are surfacing of fresh air strikes in the port town of Ras Lanouf, which was captured last night by Libyan rebels as they marched westward towards Trioli.
Just hours ago, the opposition repelled attacks by Muammar Gaddafi's security forces in Az Zawiyah, although reports from the town indicate up to 1500 injuries with 30 confirmed deaths. Colonel Hussein Darbouk, leader of the rebellion, was among those killed by anti-aircraft fire.
According to reports from Martyr's Square, Quaddafi forces are now some 4-5 km outside the city and rebel troops have maintained control of nearby oil fields.
The battle for Az Zawiyah is viewed by those closest to today's military actions as the Libyan dictator's decisive attempt to gain control later today over Sirte, his home town where earlier this week three soldiers were taken captive.
According to one eyewitness, this morning's battle was "a genocide ... people are being massacred in a way that we haven't seen - even in Iraq."
AJ reports that according to hospital medics on the scene, people were being massacred in the streets of Az Zawiyah, executed in front of their eyes and ambulances were being attacked and doctors threatened with death.
In news from Benghazi, SultanAlQassemi, a key source of reliable news from the MENA uprisings, reports that AJ cannot show the "horrific footage" it shot in the city's hospitals after the yesterday's bombardment.
Just moments ago, The OPEC Fund for International Development (OFID) announced US$500,000 in emergency assistance for people fleeing Libya. The World Food Programme (WFP) is calling for $38.7 million for humanitarian assistance to 2.7 million people impacted by the ongoing crisis.
Individuals wanting to send medical supplies to Libya, should send an email to: email@example.com.
According to the British DOM, Britian has military forces at the ready to provide humanitarin relief to Libya.
No county has yet agreed to intervene militarily in the Libyan revolt against Quaddafi, although the Libyan dictator is now under investigation by the International Criminal Court (ICC) for crimes against humanity. At the request last week of the UN Security Council, ICC prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo is reviewing the Gaddafi regime's reported murder of over 1,000 civilians, with thousands more injured, during the two-week nation-wide uprising to oust the repressive leader. Link
Sources: Twitter feeds from #libya and AJ Live
Earlier news bytes:
ABC news earlier this morning confirmed the situation in Libya was 'dire' as fierce battles eruptred in different locations outside Tripoli, where 1000s were gassed after protests follwoing yesterday's prayers.
Ahmed, a resident of Az Zawiyah speaks to Al Jazeera ont he phone from the middle of the ongoing battle. Shouting to be heard over the sound of artillery and small arms fire, he tells us:
There is heavy bombing of the city by tanks and heavy weapons and mortars - the rebels are struggling to resist with very primitive means. They [invading forces] have no mercy and are very brutal. There is a large number of injured and a lot of people killed on the streets.
Sky News is also reporting rebel defenses have been overthrown by choppers and other artillery strikes in in Zawiyah. Choppers are firing!
Opposition protesters in the country's east have set up advanced positions to guard against pro-Gaddafi forces [AFP]
Connecting Free Libya. NYT, March 5, 2011
Alex Crawford reporting live just 26 minutes ago. link
Continue coverage at Egypt Liveblog after reading my updates below.
A March 2nd video