Civilians join Gaddafi fighters in Sirte

2011-09-17 22:22

Sirte - Libyan fighters battled street by street for control of Muammar's Gaddafi's hometown of Sirte for the third day on Saturday, taking sniper, assault rifle and rocket fire from his loyalists perched on the city's rooftops.

Orange flashes of gunfire mixed with dust and black smoke over the sand-coloured buildings of the seaside city as scores of machinegun and rocket launcher-mounted pick-ups trucks snaked through its streets.

Ambulances rushed away from the battle bearing wounded fighters west as the pro-Gaddafi men defended their ground.

Ruling National Transitional Council (NTC) fighters said it was unclear how many Gaddafi loyalists were in the city but several suggested that some of Sirte's civilian residents had started joining the fight on the ousted leader's side.

"There have been heavy clashes since this morning," NTC fighter, Mahmoud Terbelu, said as he stood in the middle of a large roundabout littered with bullet casings.

"There has been some resistance from civilians, volunteers. They're above the buildings with Kalashnikovs, anti-aircraft guns, rockets and other weapons," he said.

A green and beige building stood at the roundabout scarred by rocket fire in the last two days of fighting.

Dozens of vehicles circled the town, fighters standing with rifles ready or drinking juice in the midday heat.

NTC soldiers said they had been battling for the city on three fronts - from the west, the south and the east entrances - but had been advancing slowly.

"There's been fighting by the sea and in the city," said one fighter who did not give his name. "We are gathering and then advancing. We are retaking it step by step."

Free Libya

Down the road from the roundabout, fighters gathered and traded fire with an unseen gunman, taking cover behind breeze block walls and behind pickups.

A gated compound of seaside villas stood on the opposite side of the road, which rebels said were guesthouses where diplomats and other visitors to the city had stayed.

The Mediterranean glistened behind them.

A black vehicle rolled down the road from the direction of the city, a fighter in army fatigues slumped over the anti-aircraft machine-gun mounted on the back.

Blood poured down his arms and from his torso onto ammunition cartridges.

Men shouted "God is greatest" as he was loaded into the back of a field ambulance.

His comrade, wearing sunglasses and a black and white scarf, washed the blood from his hands using a water bottle.

Most of the NTC fighters come from the port city of Misrata and bear a special grudge against Gaddafi after a months-long siege devastated large parts of that city.

They spray-painted "Free Libya" and the names of their brigades over the once ubiquitous posters that displayed Gaddafi slogans and welcomed foreign diplomats to the city.

Many fighters said sniper fire still posed a challenge to the advance as well as the presence of civilians.

Gaddafi spokesperson, Moussa Ibrahim, told Reuters on Saturday that Nato airstrikes on Sirte had killed 357 civilians overnight - an allegation Nato said may be unfounded.

"We don't want to use them," one NTC fighters told Reuters, gesturing towards two tanks

As dusk set in, the NTC fighters began to pull back to their bases on the outskirts of the city, satisfied with the progress they had made on Saturday, and vowing to be back tomorrow.

Read more on:    ntc  |  muammar gaddafi  |  libya  |  north africa  |  uprisings  |  libya protests
NEXT ON NEWS24X

SHARE:

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
45 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Inside News24

 
/News
 
Traffic
Lottery
 
  • Tuesday Bellville - 18:04 PM
    Road name: N1 Outbound
    SLOW TRAFFIC approaching the Durban Road exit
  • Tuesday Salt River - 17:55 PM
    Road name: Victoria Road / Main Road Outbound
    DELAYS between Sir Lowry Road and the N2 Highway
 
More traffic reports...
 

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Magical Massinga

Spend 5 nights at the gorgeous Massinga Beach Lodge in Mozambique and only pay for 4 from R13 220 per person sharing. Includes return flights, accommodation, transfers and romantic turndown. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

2 TV Series for R250

Get 2 TV Series box sets for R250 and save up to R148! Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Pre-order the Xbox One

Get this all-in-one entertainment system with live TV, movies, social networking and gaming. Pre-order now!

Up to 50% off hair care products!

Save up to 50% on professional hair care products at kalahari.com. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

30% off academic books

Score a mind blowing 30% off academic books! Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Mind blowing deals on electronics!

Save up to 35% on electronics. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

BlackBerry Curve 9380

The first BlackBerry Curve smartphone with a touch screen Stay connected...

From R1799.00

I'm shopping for:

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

It may be hard to avoid an argument or heated conversation today. Someone may be stirring things up and testing your patience. ...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.