BENGHAZI (AFP/Reuters) - Forces loyal to Libyan leader Moamer Gaddafi were retreating on Saturday after rebels recaptured the key eastern town of Ajdabiya in their first significant victory since the launch of the Western-led air strikes a week ago. US President Barack Obama said the international mission had saved countless innocents from a bloodbath threatened by Gaddafi, and the rebels thanked France for its role in the military blitz but said outside forces could now leave the country. However, Russias top general called the air strikes unsuccessful, and said a ground operation would probably be needed to topple the Libyan strongman. Ajdabiya was 100 percent in the hands of our forces, and we are pursuing Gaddafi's forces on the road to Brega, 80 kilometres farther west, a rebel spokesman, Shamsiddin Abdulmollah, told reporters in the stronghold of Benghazi. Who is on the back foot are Gaddafi's forces because they no longer have air power and heavy weaponry available after a week of bombing by coalition warplanes, he said. Another spokesman, Ahmed Khalifa, said the rebels had taken at least 13 Gaddafi fighters who were being treated as prisoners of war. A rebel fighter later told AFP insurgents retaken Brega also. We are in the centre of Brega, Abdelsalam al-Maadani told AFP by telephone. Gaddafi's forces are on the retreat and should now be at Al-Bisher, west of Brega. A journalist travelling with them confirmed seeing rebels in control of the centre of the oil town, and told AFP government forces had completely withdrawn. The rebels, backed by the Western barrage, earlier poured into Ajdabiya, where destroyed tanks and military vehicles littered the road, AFP correspondents at the scene reported. The bodies of at least two pro-Gaddafi fighters were surrounded by onlookers taking photos, while a mosque and many houses bore the scars of heavy shelling as the rebels celebrated, firing into the air and shouting God is greater. Outside the town, the bodies of 21 loyalist soldiers had been collected, a medic told AFP. Osama al-Qasy from Benghazis Hawari hospital said the bodies were found 10 kilometres west of Ajdabiya. Other charred corpses remained in the desert, covered by blankets. Regime loyalists had dug in at Ajdabiya after being forced back from the road to Benghazi by the first coalition air strikes. They were accused by residents of brutalising the population. Forces loyal to Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi launched attacks on rebel-held Misrata from the west and the east on Saturday, shelling the citys port with mortars and artillery, a rebel told Reuters. Gaddafi forces are attacking Misrata from the west and east side. (There is) heavy shelling, the rebel, called Saadoun, told Reuters by phone. From the west, he said tanks were advancing from the coastal road towards the city. They are also trying to bring in soldiers, he said. From the east, they are shelling with mortars and artillery the port and areas around it. There is the main fuel tank in the port which feeds the central part of the city. He said there were thousands of workers, mainly Egyptians, at the port who had fled and stayed there hoping for rescue. A rebel spokesman earlier said pro-Gaddafi forces had eased their bombardment of Misrata after Western air strikes hit some of their positions. Elsewhere, huge explosions shook a military site in an eastern suburb of Tripoli early Saturday as Western forces piled pressure on the regime. The blasts left a radar facility in flames in Tajura, home to several military bases, a witness told AFP. The district was shaken by three explosions in succession, the resident said, adding that the explosions had shattered windows. Under pressure to explain his strategy to Americans, Obama gave his most detailed review of the conflict so far, and insisted national interests were behind his decision to order US forces into UN-mandated combat. Make no mistake, because we acted quickly, a humanitarian catastrophe has been avoided and the lives of countless civilians innocent men, women and children have been saved, he said in his weekly radio and online address. When innocent people are brutalized by a leader like Gaddafi who was threatening a bloodbath, and when nations are prepared to respond together, its in our national interest to act, he said. And its our responsibility.