Framework

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A family walks past the shattered remains of a store. Two buses and a few vans full of journalists were brought to the city center by government representatives to show they had defeated the rebels who had been holding the city, just 30 miles west of the capital, Tripoli.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Rick Loomis / Los Angeles Times

Security forces try to stop a journalist from filming the remains of a burned out tank as government officials took journalists on a tour of the city.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Rick Loomis / Los Angeles Times

Gunmen stand on a tank as they guard the main square in Zawiya where the minaret of a nearby mosque was heavily damaged in the fighting between government forces and rebel fighters.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Rick Loomis / Los Angeles Times

A soldier laughs with a comrade passing by on a military vehicle in the city's central square. Fresh paint and huge banners were used to cover some bullet-riddled walls and building facades.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Rick Loomis / Los Angeles Times

Libyan state TV journalists film cheering pro-Kadafi supporters that showed up in the central square of an otherwise apparently deserted city.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Rick Loomis / Los Angeles Times

A boy in a car passing through the central square holds a plastic AK-47. Cleaning crews tried to minimize the obviously heavy damage to the area and government minders and soldiers tried to prevent journalists from taking images of the destruction.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Rick Loomis / Los Angeles Times

Workers clean up the debris and damage from heavy fighting in the city center as government minders take foreign journalists on a tour of the area.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Rick Loomis / Los Angeles Times

Nabil Mustafa, 20, is treated at a hospital after being injured in a battle in Ras Lanuf against forces loyal to Moammar Kadafi. He was with an antiaircraft artillery crew when he was hit in the head by shrapnel.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times

Rebel fighters gather after pulling back from Ras Lanuf, where they faced a strong assault from government forces.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times

A rebel fighter patrols the trash-strewn streets of the city, which has become the main line of defence against the government assault.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times

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Journalist tour a battlefield in Libya, rebels retreat in the east

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Journalist tour a battlefield in Libya, rebels retreat in the east

Times photographer Rick Loomis and Luis Sinco are in Libya covering the conflict. Sinco is in rebel-held territory in the east and Loomis is with a government-sponsored tour of journalists in the west. Loomis filed this report about his day visiting Zawiya, near Tripoli, days after heavy fighting there:

On Friday two buses and a few vans full of journalists were taken about 30 miles west of Tripoli, the capital, to Zawiya. The city was taken over by rebels at one point but fierce fighting by government forces defeated those trying to spark a revolution in the country.

Though the battle is thought to have ended more than two days ago the government went through a substantial effort to try to clean up some of the damage before allowing journalists to visit. Burned out cars and tanks were hauled away from the main square to the back of a nearby building. When journalists discovered the scene, soldiers rushed to to keep them from filming the destruction.

Government minders preferred to keep journalists focused on flag-waving pro-government supporters who were curiously everywhere on the square, though the rest of the city appeared deserted. Green and white fabric was hung from top to bottom of several multistory buildings in an effort to cover the damage from heavy shelling. Fresh paint ineffectively covered bullet-riddled walls.

After the visit, in which journalists were prevented from wandering away from the main square, they were taken back to a hotel in Tripoli where most of them are staying. Next up, Ras Lanuf, a city the government says it recently recaptured from the rebels. Government minders are trying to organize a flight there on Saturday.

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