LIBYA

Rebels May Ask for Western Airstrikes

Libyan rebels are weighing whether to ask the U.N. for air strikes from Western militaries, sources told The New York Times Tuesday. The rebel military faces a distinct disadvantage in the uprising, because Col. Muammar Gaddafi kept the country's military weak for decades to avoid mutiny. The dictator also has a private mercenary force hired from neighboring countries and a strong air force behind him. The rebel uprising has been led by foreign powers, but a member of the revolutionary council said that airstrikes led by U.N. forces would not be considered"foreign intervention." The U.S.—which has said its military could enter Libya if necessary—and European nations have called for the creation of a no-fly zone over Libya to weaken Gaddafi’s air force. Gaddafi launched counterattacks Monday on several rebel strongholds, but anti-government forces managed to oust his army in the strategically important and oil-rich city of Zawiyah, located just 30 miles from Tripoli.