A rebel under Ibrahim Jathran holds the Cyrenaica flag while standing on a boat at Es Sider port in Ras Lanuf, where a North Korean-flagged tanker had loaded crude oil, March 11, 2014. (REUTERS/Esam Omran Al-Fetori)
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The president of Libya's highest political authority Wednesday called off plans to assault rebels blockading oil terminals, giving them two weeks to stand down voluntarily or again face military action.General National Congress head Nouri Ali Abu Sahmein Monday ordered an assault on rebels demanding regional autonomy in the east, who began exporting oil this week in defiance of the central government.In the absence of a large enough regular army force to take on the heavily armed rebels, the advance guard of the task force is composed largely of militia loyal to the GNC.The rebels' prolonged blockade had already slashed oil exports from 1.5 million barrels per day to just 250,000 bpd.That was a clear reference to the Zintan militia, which has been deployed at the airport since the 2011 uprising in which it played a major role in capturing Tripoli from Gadhafi's forces.
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