Military Wiki
Battle of Ra's Lanuf
Part of Libyan Civil War
Date4–5 March 2011 (First phase)[1]
6–12 March 2011 (Second phase)[2]
LocationRa's Lanuf, Libya
Result Temporary anti-Gaddafi victory after the First phase; Ultimately Pro-Gaddafi victory after the Second phase

Libya Anti-Gaddafi forces

Libya Armed forces of the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya
Commanders and leaders
Libya Abdul Fatah Younis Unknown
Saaiqa 36 Battalion[3]
500-1,000 volunteers[4]
3,000 (First phase)[5]
four battalions (Second phase)[6]
Casualties and losses
16-26 rebels killed (First phase)[7][8]
20 rebels killed (Second phase/bombardment)[9]
15 killed, 65 missing (Second phase/ground fighting)[10]
20 mutinous loyalists executed[11]
Total dead & missing:
136-146 killed or missing
Total captured: 1,500 (Government claim)[12]
2[13]-25[7] soldiers killed, 2 pilots killed, 1 Su-24MK shot down[14] (First phase)
Unknown (Second phase)

The Battle of Ra's Lanuf was a two-phase battle in 2011 during the Libyan Civil War between forces loyal to Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi and those loyal to the National Transitional Council. Both forces sought control of the town of Ra's Lanuf. The first phase followed two days after the First Battle of Brega which occurred in the town Brega, roughly 130 kilometres (81 mi) to the east of Ra's Lanuf.[15][16] After conquering the town on 4 March, the rebels pushed further west to attack Sirte but they were driven back by government forces and on 11 March, government troops reconquered most of Ra's Lanuf.[17][18][19]

The battle

First phase

According to the rebels, the loyalist forces used heavy weapons and helicopters to attack them one kilometre from the airport. One rebel reported seeing four men in front of him killed by an explosion.[20] Rebels reported that there were defections from the local pro-Gaddafi military base in Ra's Lanuf.[21]

Sometime during the night, rebel forces managed to capture the entire town of Ra's Lanuf, including the airport and military base.[22] Following the capture of the base, the rebels claimed to have found the bodies of 20 soldiers who were executed after they refused to open fire on rebel forces.[23][24]

In addition to the 20 mutinous soldiers who were reportedly executed, according to the rebels, various numbers of dead had been reported. 16[7] dead were reported on the rebel side with 31 wounded,[4] and two[13] to 25[7] loyalists ground troops were reportedly killed in addition to two loyalist pilots.[13]

One Libyan Air Force jet bomber was reported to had been shot down outside Ra's Lanuf on 5 March, by anti-Gaddafi rebels.[25]

Second phase

On 6 March, as the rebels were advancing from Ra's Lanuf toward Sirte, they were ambushed by Gaddafi's troops at Bin Jawad and suffered heavy losses.[18] After that, they made a hasty retreat toward Ra's Lanuf where they were bombarded for four days.

During the next three days of constant air, tank and naval bombardment of the frontlines at Ra's Lanuf, 20 rebels were killed and at least 65 wounded.[9]

On 10 March, the BBC reported that troops loyal to Muammar Gaddafi had cleared rebels from Ra's Lanuf. A rebel fighter told AFP news agency, "We've been defeated. They are shelling and we are running away. That means that they're taking Ra's Lanuf." Gaddafi attacked the city with tanks and artillery from the west and the south, ships fired upon the city from the north, while airplanes bombed the town.[26] Rebel reinforcements from the east tried to enter the city, but were immediately attacked and a rebel commander reported dozens of his fighters were killed and many others missing.[12] Later that evening, most rebel forces had retreated from the town and were trying to set up a line of defense east of the city, while some hard-core opposition fighters were continuing to put up resistance in Ra's Lanuf. Four opposition fighters were confirmed killed during the fighting, 36 were wounded[27] and 65 were missing.[3]

By the evening of 10 March, all major news media were reporting that the town had fallen with large numbers of rebel fighters killed or captured, despite a denial from the rebel-led council in Benghazi.[28] The government claimed that an estimated 1,500 rebel fighters had been captured.[12] After the battle anti-Gaddafi fighters advised civilians to leave the area around Brega in expectation of continuing advances by government forces.[29]

On the morning of 11 March, the first loyalist ground troops entered the town with 150 soldiers, backed up by three tanks, and managed to get to the city center. At the same time, four transport boats came in from the sea and unloaded 40-50 soldiers each on the beach near the Fadeel hotel. They were engaged by hard-core rebel remnants, who had not retreated from Ra's Lanuf the previous day.[19] Government troops captured the residential area, but the rebels continued to hold out in the oil port facilities for a few hours before they too retreated from Ra's Lanuf east of the city. The town had fallen. However, in the afternoon, the rebels regrouped, mounted a counteroffensive and managed to expel the loyalist forces from the eastern part of the town.[30] Government soldiers still held the western part of the city and a stalemate soon developed.[31]

On 12 March, rebels fighting in Ra's Lanuf retreated in the afternoon to the town of Uqayla west of Brega[32] and rebel leaders confirmed that pro-Gaddafi forces had driven them 20 km out of the town and captured the oil refinery.[2] Later during the day, the government took foreign journalists to the city for confirmation of the town's fall.[33]


After the battle the town was firmly in loyalist hands and government troops advanced further east taking the towns of Brega and Ajdabiya and arriving to Benghazi. However, on 19 March, a military intervention by the UN started. The air strikes by Coalition aircraft pushed back government troops which allowed the rebels to retake a string of towns. On 27 March, pro-Gaddafi forces in Ra's Lanuf were observed retreating towards Sirte. This allowed the anti-Gaddafi forces to retake control of the city.[34] However, this would not last and once again, just three days later, government troops routed the rebels during a counter-attack from Ra's Lanuf on 30 March, taking back the town.[35]

Anti-Gaddafi forces recaptured the city in August, but then on 12 September at least 15 oil refinery guards were killed and two wounded by pro-Gaddafi fighters.[36]


  1. "Libya: Gaddafi forces push rebels from Ras Lanuf". BBC News. 10 March 2011. Archived from the original on 22 March 2011. Retrieved 19 March 2011. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 "Libya: Gaddafi troops take rebel oil town". BBC. 12 March 2011. Archived from the original on 14 March 2011. Retrieved 12 March 2011. 
  3. 3.0 3.1 "Gadhafi showers strategic oil port with rockets". Huffington Post. Ra's Lanuf. 10 March 2011. Retrieved 8 January 2012. 
  4. 4.0 4.1 Schemm, Paul; Michael, Maggie (5 March 2011). "Libya forces try to halt rebel move toward capital". USA Today. Bin Jawad. Retrieved 19 March 2011. 
  5. "Gadhafi forces battle rebels as 37 killed in Libya". USA Today. Tripoli. 4 March 2011. Retrieved 8 January 2012. 
  6. Garcia-Navarro, Lourdes (10 March 2011). "Libyan Rebels Driven Out Of Strategic Coastal City". National Public Radio. Ra's Lanuf. Retrieved 10 March 2011. 
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 "Gaddafi forces accused of 'massacre' as battles rage". Channel NewsAsia. Bin Jawad. 6 March 2011. Retrieved 19 March 2011. 
  8. Kirkpatrick, David D.; Fahim, Kareem (5 March 2011). "In Libya, Both Sides Gird for Long War as Civilian Toll Mounts". The New York Times. Tripoli. Archived from the original on 6 March 2011. Retrieved 5 March 2011. 
  9. 9.0 9.1 Chew, Amy (10 March 2011). "Oil-rich town of Ras Lanuf a major battleground". The Malaysian Star. 
  10. "Libya rebels appeal for aid as Kadhafi troops advance". The Bangkok Post. 11 March 2011. Retrieved 11 March 2011. 
  11. Daragahi, Borzou; Therolf, Garrett (5 March 2011). "In Libya, Kadafi's forces launch assault on rebel-held city". Los Angeles Times. Tripoli and Cairo.,0,1357974.story?track=rss. Retrieved 8 January 2012. 
  12. 12.0 12.1 12.2 "Libya Live Blog - March 10". Al Jazeera. 10 March 2011. Retrieved 10 March 2011. 
  13. 13.0 13.1 13.2 Pfeiffer, Tom; Dziadosz, Alexander (5 March 2011). "Death toll rises in east from fighting, blast". Benghazi and Ajdabiya. Retrieved 19 March 2011. 
  14. "Gunfire rings out in Libyan capital". CNN. Tripoli. 5 March 2011. Archived from the original on 22 March 2011. Retrieved 19 March 2011. 
  15. Chulov, Martin; Beaumont, Peter; Tisdall, Simon (4 March 2011). "Libya: Fierce day of raids and clashes signals shift towards civil war". The Guardian. Benghazi and Tripoli. Archived from the original on 5 March 2011. Retrieved 4 March 2011. 
  16. "Kämpfe in Libyen: Rebellen gegen Regime" (in German). Der Spiegel. 4 March 2011. Retrieved 4 March 2011. 
  17. "Gaddafi loyalists launch offensive". Al Jazeera. 10 March 2011. Archived from the original on 10 March 2011. Retrieved 10 March 2011. 
  18. 18.0 18.1 Hill, Evan (10 March 2011). "Rebel push stalls outside Ras Lanuf". Al Jazeera. Archived from the original on 11 March 2011. Retrieved 10 March 2011. 
  19. 19.0 19.1 "Gaddafi forces enter key oil port". News 24. Brega. 11 March 2011. Retrieved 11 March 2011. 
  20. "Gaddafi forces hit rebels east and west". The Australian. 4 March 2011. Retrieved 8 January 2012. 
  21. "Amazing: Anderson Cooper grills Gaddafi spokesman on hallucinogenic pills | Libya February 17th". 2011-03-04. Retrieved 2011-03-19. 
  22. Abbas, Mohammed (4 March 2011). "UPDATE 1-Libyan rebels take oil town of Ras Lanuf- rebels". Retrieved 19 March 2011. 
  23. Garcia-Navarro, Lourdes; Kenyon, Peter (5 March 2011). "Rival Successes In Libya Hint At Protracted Battle". National Public Radio. 
  24. Lyons, John (9 March 2011). "Rebel advance on Tripoli thwarted". The Australian. Benghazi. Retrieved 8 January 2012. 
  25. Sherwell, Philip (5 March 2011). "Gaddafi and rebel forces in heavy clashes in town of Zawiya". The Daily Telegraph. London. Archived from the original on 10 March 2011. Retrieved 6 March 2011. 
  26. "Rebels forced from Libyan oil port". BBC. 10 March 2011. Archived from the original on 11 March 2011. Retrieved 10 March 2011. 
  27. "Libyan troops enter Ras Lanuf". The Guardian. Brega. 11 March 2011. Archived from the original on 22 March 2011. Retrieved 11 March 2011. 
  28. Shadid, Anthony (10 March 2011). "Qaddafi Forces Bear Down on Strategic Town as Rebels Flee". The New York Times. Ra's Lanuf. Retrieved 10 March 2011. 
  29. Ben Wedeman (10 March 2011). "Anti-Qaddafi forces advising civilians". Retrieved 10 March 2011. 
  30. Georgy, Michael; Golovnina, Maria (11 March 2011). "Rebels repel Gaddafi assault on Libya oil port". The Malaysian Star. Tripoli. Archived from the original on 11 March 2011. Retrieved 11 March 2011. 
  31. Dziadosz, Alexander (11 March 2011). "UPDATE 2-Rebels, Gaddafi forces skirmish over "ghost town"". Reuters Africa. Ra's Lanuf. Retrieved 11 March 2011. 
  32. Abbas, Mohammed (12 March 2011). "UPDATE 1-Gaddafi pushes rebels east, more fighters ready". Uqaylah. Retrieved 8 January 2012. 
  33. Schemm, Paul; al-Shalchi, Hadeel (12 March 2011). "Gadhafi pushes ahead as Arab League debates help". Breitbart. Ra's Lanuf. Retrieved 12 March 2011. 
  35. "Libya: Gaddafi's fighters force rebel retreat". BBC News. 30 March 2011. Retrieved 8 January 2012. 
  36. "Libya conflict: New fighting in town of Bani Walid". BBC News. 12 September 2011. Retrieved 8 January 2012. 

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