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Russia Criticizes West's Recognition Of Libyan Rebels

A Libyan rebel wounded during battle for control of the oil town of Brega flashes a victory sign as he is taken to the emergency room at the general hospital in Ajdabiya on July 17.
Russia has criticized Western governments for recognizing the Libyan rebels' National Transitional Council as a legitimate government, saying such a move necessarily translates into a "policy of isolation."

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said the United States and other countries that formally recognized the rebels last week are taking sides in Libya's civil war.

"It means once again that those who declare recognition stand fully on the side of one political force in a civil war which is ongoing in Libya," Lavrov said. "It means once again that the supporters of such a decision are the supporters of the policy of isolation. In this case, [it is the] isolation of those forces that represent Tripoli."

Libyan rebel forces on July 18 claimed to have routed most of Muammar Qaddafi's militia fighters from the eastern oil town of Brega -- reportedly leaving about 150 to 200 Qaddafi loyalists pinned down at industrial facilities in the city.

Rebel spokesman Shamsiddin Abdulmolah says rebel fighters have encircled Brega but are staying out of the center for now. For months, Brega has marked the eastern limit of Qaddafi's control in Libya.

compiled from agency reports