MISRATA, Libya - Colonel Muammar Gadhafi's forces launched a shocker ground and artillery attack Tuesday against this city's port, threatening Misrata's sole lifeline to the world just two days after rebels drove the last government forces out of the city.
The attacks have thwarted ships from docking at the port, cutting off the only access point for aid and supplies.
Despite their "victory" over government forces, the rebels in Libya's third biggest city feared a counter-attack was about to happen.
Opposition forces appeared to be caught off guard when the Libyan leader's forces swept through rugged coastal desert while unleashing a pounding artillery and rocket bombardment against the port and the surrounding area. Col. Gadhafi's forces have so far avoided that approach, presumably because the open terrain provides no cover from North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) airplanes.
The rebel official in charge of communications at the port, Sadiq Fitury, said rebel commanders alerted NATO, which responded late Tuesday with airstrikes that appeared to halt the counteroffensive.