Military Wiki
First Battle of Brega
Part of Libyan Civil War
File:Libya Brega rebel fighters 10 March 2011 - VOA Ittner.jpg
Anti-Gaddafi rebels raise the opposition flag eight days after the battle
Date2 March 2011
LocationBrega, Libya

Anti-Gaddafi victory[1]

  • Pro-Gaddafi forces fail to recapture Brega

Libya Anti-Gaddafi forces

Libya Armed forces of the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya
Commanders and leaders
Libya Bashir Abdel-Qader[2]
Libya Khaled Kowati[3]
300-350 combatants
One tank
Dozens of technicals
200-400 combatants
Two fighter jets
50 technicals
120mm artillery
Casualties and losses
14 killed[4]
12 captured[5]
28 wounded[6]
2[2]-10 killed
4 captured
1 F1 shot down[3]

The First Battle of Brega[7] was fought during the Libyan Civil War. It began when pro-Gaddafi government troops attacked the city, held by the National Transitional Council, in the early hours of 2 March 2011.

The Battle

In the early hours of 2 March, well-armed government pro-Gaddafi forces arrived at Brega in over 100 vehicles. They succeeded in wresting control of the oil refinery, port, terminal and industry airport, as well as the town university.[8] Coming within 2-3 kilometers (1-2 mi) from the town center, pro-Gaddafi forces managed to pin down rebel forces.[9] According to a number of news sources, rebels were rushed to mobilization and hid in the sand for camouflage. Most were volunteers from the rebel-controlled cities of Ajdabiya and Benghazi.[8][9]

As the attack was underway, Libyan Air Force pilots loyal to Gaddafi bombed a munitions depot at Ajdabiya. However, after a few hours, rebel reinforcements from Ajdabiya arrived in Brega and pushed back pro-Gaddafi fighters to the university campus where they came under siege. Moving along the coast, rebel fighters charged over the sand dunes on the beach up the hill to the university building, while under constant mortar fire. At one moment, a warplane attacked the dunes in an attempt to disperse the rebels, but it caused no casualties, and the siege continued. According to the rebels, the pro-Gaddafi forces at the university used civilians as human shields. Government troops eventually withdrew from the university and out of the city some 8 kilometres (5.0 mi) to the west.[9] A senior rebel officer stated pro-Gaddafi troops might have run out of ammunition and as such were forced to withdraw.[8]

It was reported that women and children were dragged out of their cars on the Tripoli-Benghazi road by the pro-Gaddafi forces and used as human shields.[9]

The government force retreated to Ra's Lanuf, about 120 km west of Brega, after the battle.[4]


At least 14 people were initially reported killed in the fighting, although some estimates were as low as five dead.[10] Reporters who came in from the Benghazi area saw four dead, two of which were apparently pro-Gaddafi fighters.[2] At least 14 opposition fighters were later reported killed and 28 others wounded. Eight of those killed were former oil workers.[11] The rebels claimed that they had killed 10 loyalist soldiers and captured several others.[12]

The assault on the Brega oil port was the first major regime counter-offensive against the opposition-held eastern half of Libya, where the population, backed by mutinous army units, rose up and drove out Gaddafi's rule during the first few days of the uprising.[13] The offensive came while Gaddafi warned opposition forces that he would fight "until the last man and woman". Following the battle, celebrations were held by rebel fighters and residents in Brega and Ajdabiya. According to BBC correspondent John Simpson, the rebels were "very proud" and the general feeling in Brega was that Gaddafi's troops "do not necessarily have their hearts in the job."[8]

On 3 March, pro-Gaddafi jets bombed the area between the oil refinery and the residential zone in Brega, rebels also reported an air raid against positions in Ajdabiya.[14][15] Analysts believe the Battle of Brega indicates that either side may prove unable to definitely defeat the other.[14]

On 4 March, anti-Gaddafi fighters launched an attack against Ra's Lanuf. On 6 March the rebel advance was stopped in the battle of Bin Jawad and government forces recaptured Ra's Lanuf on 10 March.[16][17] Anti-Gaddafi fighters were reported to have been advising civilians to leave the area around Brega in expectation of a second battle.[18] The Second Battle of Brega was fought on 13 March and by the morning of 14 March, rebel forces were holding the residential district and loyalist forces were holding the oil facilities.[19] The next day, the town fell to the loyalists.


  1. Schemm, Paul (2 March 2011). "Libya Rebels Rout Gaddafi Forces In Fierce Battle For Oil Port". The Huffington Post. Brega. Retrieved 3 March 2011. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 "Live Blog - Libya March 2 | Al Jazeera Blogs". Al Jazeera. 1 March 2011. Retrieved 13 March 2011. 
  3. 3.0 3.1 Potter, Mitch (2 March 2011). "The Star in Libya: Rebels quash Gadhafi raid". The Toronto Star. Brega. Retrieved 13 March 2011. 
  4. 4.0 4.1 Simpson, John (3 March 2011). "Libya revolt: Rebels say no talks unless Gaddafi goes". BBC News. Retrieved 8 January 2012. 
  5. Sengupta, Kim (3 March 2011). "Gaddafi's men poised to strike at Benghazi". The Independent. El Agheila. Retrieved 13 March 2011. 
  6. Dehghanpisheh, Babak (4 March 2011). "Inside Libya's Rebel Movement". The Daily Beast. Retrieved 13 March 2011. 
  7. Hill, Evan (3 March 2011). "The battle for Brega". Al Jazeera. Brega. Retrieved 13 March 2011. 
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 8.3 "Libya revolt: Rebels mark 'victory' after Brega battle". BBC News. 3 March 2011. Retrieved 8 January 2012. 
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 9.3 Bloomfield, Adrian (2 March 2011). "Libya: rebels in desperate battle to hold ground". The Telegraph. Brega. 
  10. "Gadhafi steps up massacre". The Daily Star. 3 March 2011. Retrieved 3 March 2011. 
  11. Koutsoukis, Jason (3 March 2011). "Gaddafi's forces unleashed on rebels". The Sydney Morning Herald. Ajdabiya. Retrieved 13 March 2011. 
  12. Schemm, Paul (5 March 2011). "Rebels reinforce key Libyan oil port". Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 13 March 2011. 
  13. Stanglin, Douglas (2 March 2011). "Libyan rebels fend off government attack on eastern oil port". USA Today. Retrieved 8 January 2012. 
  14. 14.0 14.1 Marcus, Jonathan (3 March 2011). "Libya stalemate presents diplomatic challenges". BBC News. Retrieved 8 January 2012. 
  15. "Funerals held for Libyan rebels". Al Jazeera. 4 March 2011. Retrieved 8 January 2012. 
  16. "Gaddafi loyalists launch offensive". Al Jazeera. 10 March 2011. Retrieved 10 March 2011. 
  17. Hill, Evan (10 March 2011). "Rebel push stalls outside Ras Lanuf". Al Jazeera. Retrieved 10 March 2011. 
  18. Wedeman, Ben (10 March 2011). "Anti-Qaddafi forces advising civilians (...)". CNN. Retrieved 10 March 2011. 
  19. {{cite news|url= forces launch dual offensive on dwindling rebel towns as Gaddafi bribes opposition to rejoin army|work= DailyMail|date=15 March 2011|accessdate=19 March 2011|location=London}}

Coordinates: 30°26′6″N 19°40′1″E / 30.435°N 19.66694°E / 30.435; 19.66694

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