Fierce resistance from Gaddafi diehards

2011-09-29 11:01

Sirte - Ferocious attacks by Gaddafi diehards forced fighters of Libya's new rulers to retreat from the ousted strongman's birthplace Sirte, where a tank shell killed three in a "friendly fire" attack.

Equally fierce resistance from loyalists in the desert town of Bani Walid, Muammar Gaddafi’s other remaining bastion of support, has stalled a final assault by National Transitional Council (NTC) fighters, said commanders, who called on Nato to increase its air support.

While the fugitive Gaddafi’s  whereabouts remain unknown, Libya's defence ministry spokesperson Ahmed Bani said in Tripoli one of his sons, Saif al-Islam, was in Bani Walid and another, Mutassim, in Sirte.

Along with his father and former intelligence chief Abdullah al-Senussi, Saif is wanted by the International Criminal Court for alleged crimes against humanity.

An NTC commander in eastern Sirte told AFP that fighting which raged into Wednesday night was the fiercest yet since new regime forces launched their assault on the Mediterranean port city on September 15.

"There were heavy clashes [on Wednesday]. Our men came under heavy attack," said the commander, who asked not to be identified.

The fighting was so intense, he added, that his forces were forced to retreat 3km outside the city.

"They [Gaddafi loyalists] have lost everything. This is their last battle and so are fighting fiercely. Our troops are taking a heavy beating at the moment. Today we retreated 3km," he said, adding that battles were concentrated at the port and the city's eastern outskirts.

NTC fighters captured the port in east Sirte two days ago, in a major victory for their battle for control of the Gaddafi stronghold.

Day-to-day fight

It was unclear whether the port was still under their control, but the commander said NTC forces were still present there late on Wednesday.

"It is becoming a day-to-day fight. One day we are winning, the next day they are winning," he said.

In a separate incident, three NTC fighters were killed by "friendly fire" on Wednesday when they were shelled by a tank on the frontline in eastern Sirte, the commander said.

"There was some lack of co-ordination and... our fighters were hit by a shell fired by our tank stationed behind them. There were three martyrs," he said.

In another incident, medics at a field hospital about 50km west of Sirte said on Thursday two fighters were killed and 18 were wounded when a rocket in a munitions dump fired accidentally, possibly due to rain, and slammed into their room.

The anti-Gaddafi forces have urged Nato to intensify its air war because of heavy losses both in Sirte and in Bani Walid, where senior NTC commander Daou al-Salhine al-Jadak was among 11 fighters killed in a rocket barrage on Tuesday.

An AFP correspondent said that despite heavy use of tanks, rocket launchers and artillery, the NTC forces had not advanced from positions held for the past few days in Bani Walid, 170 kilometres southeast of Tripoli.

"There is always incoming missile and artillery fire. We are returning fire with heavy weapons but we are not sending in infantry. We are waiting for reinforcements," Captain Walid Khaimej told AFP.

"Nato is here but is not doing enough. They take out the rocket launchers firing at us, but they are immediately replaced. We need more help from Nato."

Civilian population

Under a UN mandate aimed at protecting civilians, the alliance has been giving air support to the popular revolt that erupted in February and forced Gaddafi out of Tripoli and into hiding last month.

Its daily operational updates suggest it has scaled down the intensity of its strikes: they report attacks on targets in Bani Walid on just one of the past three days.

But Colonel Roland Lavoie, the air campaign's military spokesperson, said: "Nato has not reduced its activity in Libya," noting alliance aircraft had conducted at least 100 sorties per day over the past few days.

"The number of strikes depends on the danger against the civilian population, in conformity with our mandate," Lavoie told AFP in an email.

Interim justice minister Mohammed al-Alagi said in Tripoli, meanwhile, that Libya has issued a summons for Gaddafi’s former prime minister Baghdadi al-Mahmudi, who fled to neighbouring Tunisia.

Mahmudi, premier until the last days of Gaddafi’s regime, was arrested last week on Tunisia's south-western border with Algeria.

A Tunisian court swiftly sentenced him to six months in prison after finding him guilty of illegal entry, but that decision was overruled on Tuesday by a higher court following an appeal.

  • Libertador - 2011-09-29 11:04

    Long Live the Fighting Spirit Of The Green Revolution!!!

      john_jones - 2011-09-29 12:19

      Lieber Doris. Are you not in the wrong millenium by any chance?. That sort of 'faux-chic' was pretty avant-garde in the 70's but from here in the year 2011 it looks pretty ridiculous. Gaddfers was a pig , is a pig and will gurgle like a pig when his throat is cut.

      Delusion - 2011-09-29 18:01

      Yes, As a Lybian myself, I agree with Libertador. F@ck us, the Lybian people - how dare we rise up against a brutal mass murderer despot of 40 years? Shame on you - Nato, the West, imperialists and colonialists (excluding China) for liberating us, the Lybian People. It was a disgrace.... Like Libertador, we would have been happier with continued opression....

  • Civil_Rights - 2011-09-29 11:13

    Just drop an atomic bomb on the Gaddaffi loyalists, who would be loyal to a dictator who can't even dress like a normal human being. That should ring bells that he is inhumane

      Geetsy - 2011-09-29 11:36

      Gaddafi a Human Being?? Since when?

      slg - 2011-09-29 15:49

      Thankfully the freer world has more heart and mind than this.

  • Christo - 2011-09-29 11:31

    Moammar Gadhafi is blaming Osama bin Laden for all of Libya's troubles. It's going to be awkward when these two guys meet in hell.

      tommy 2 - 2011-09-29 11:48

      So you asume they are going to hell.

      robert.nyathi - 2011-09-29 11:48

      gadhaffi vs obama in hell

  • tommy 2 - 2011-09-29 11:44

    Lomg live gaddafi, Long live the last king of Africa, Long live the people of Libya, Down with the Rebel terrorists,

      Dal68 - 2011-09-29 11:47


      Grynch - 2011-09-29 11:50

      Hi Tommy. It appears that you are one of the last of the absolute monarchists or is this your tradition to have one strong ruler and everyone else as a loyal subject?

      daaivark - 2011-09-29 12:08

      Tommy can you hear me? Tommy can you hear me? See me, feel me.....

      MobBim - 2011-09-29 14:13

      Long live Qaddafi

      slg - 2011-09-29 15:49

      Last stand of the few mad dictator Gadhafi diehards.

      aman - 2011-09-29 17:18

      He's lived long enough. Now is his time to die.

      Anton - 2011-09-29 17:56

      tommy 2 "Long live the people of Libya" For sure, But the Libyans want this without this psychopathic fruitcake gaddafi and they don't want this "king" BS story. AT LONG LAST , AFTER 42 YEARS, NO MORE TYRANNY BY SOME SCUM FAMILY

  • robert.nyathi - 2011-09-29 11:49

    gadhaffi vs obama in hell

  • Muenda - 2011-09-29 11:59

    Last kick of a dying horse. Though I still disapprove the involvement of NATO. Oil sickness

      slg - 2011-09-29 15:45

      Muenda, as said many times before, what on Earth does the Arab League want with Libya's oil? It requested Nato's intervention and is involved in operations.

  • world-weary - 2011-09-29 11:59

    ''our fighters were hit by a shell fired by our tank stationed behind them'' - honestly now. lol last week reuters team witnessed a ntc soldier blow his head off - seems like these guys keep scoring own goals.

  • Jim - 2011-09-29 12:04

    a tank shell killed three in a "friendly fire" attack. Who writes this crap? "A friendly fire attack" ???? I ask you.

      Tolerant - 2011-09-29 12:12

      They call it "friendly fire" if someone get's killed by theire own forces

  • morena - 2011-09-29 12:19

    what is "air support" how does nato know which building to attack and marks it and give coordinates to nato or is nato on the ground too or does nato just drop bomb anywhere as long as they land in the town and if a build is identified who makes an effort to ensure that there isn't any innocent people in there or not, does nato take down the whole building, questions questions this to me sounds like there is a lot of war crime by nato happening in libya

      slg - 2011-09-29 15:46

      The way you've summed it up, it probably would be. Is this the way it is happening? No.

  • wisegirl - 2011-09-29 12:26

    enough of tyrants

      Mike Connors - 2011-09-29 16:09

      NATO is the tyrant

      slg - 2011-09-29 20:13

      How Mike? They've been requested to intervene by the international community based on a narrow set of objectives: eliminate the dictator Gadhafi's ability to harm Libyans in his self-stated brutal attempt to hold onto power after 40 years of being in power and denying Libyans the right to vote.

  • Woofix - 2011-09-29 12:45

    @ Christo: Nêrens in die berig staan dat Gaddafi vir Osama bin Ladin beskuldig het nie. Dis absurd want Osama is reeds lankal doodgeskiet en sy mense opereer teen westerse groepe en veral in Iran en Irak. Maak geen sense nie. Ek lees ook jou kommentaar teen die mafia sindikate wat ons polisie geskiet het. Jy sal versigtig moet wees met jou uitsprake veral as jy d.m.v. F.B. jou kommentare publiseer. Jy stel jou twee mooi kinderkies en hele gesin en al jou F.B. vriende in gevaar want ons lewe in 'n mafia land waar wetsgehoorsame burgers gejag word. Die artikel waarop jy so onverantwoordelik gekoment het bewys dit alreeds. So wees net versigtig. Teken liewer in d.m.v waar jy 'n skuilnaam kan kry met 'n skuil profile foto. baie veiliger.

      aman - 2011-09-29 13:17

      Agreed, but didn't Gaddafi blame Al Qaeda for the original unrest?

      MobBim - 2011-09-29 16:21

      well said Woofix maar ek dink other mense will nie verstan jou punt hoekom hy nie die boodskap vertaal..

  • get to know - 2011-09-29 12:56

    Gadaffi is a better leader than the NATO murderes who killed 300% more civilians than Gadaffi. i bat my leg and an arm. Eauropeans and Americans will never rule Libya like elsewere in Afgan. imperialists keep on fighting a loosing battle.

      world-weary - 2011-09-29 13:08

      dude please learn how to spell before you comment! would of been a good point if it was not lost in translation....

      slg - 2011-09-29 15:47

      Delusional and wrong. Six million Libyans are celebrating their right to vote, which is just around the corner.

      MobBim - 2011-09-29 16:45

      Tell them at the end of the day the message will reach the intended receipent and s/he will understand your points of view... we are tired of supporting this killers who kill just for sake of their personal interests.... I believe normal people who think straight will tell you nato does not carry the interests of Libyan by hearts all they care is oil nothing else eg Zimbabwe Ethopia, Somalia people are suffering human right is violeted nobody care they just stand aside look. while Qaddafi was still in charge Libya was like a dream paradise with all the riches.....

      aman - 2011-09-29 17:21

      For Gaddafi it was

  • uvira.mulongwe - 2011-09-29 13:29

    The truth will prevail one day! why do you people keep on fighting in Lybia? and for what reason? lybian people were not hungry nor did not lack of anything!!! if you really wanna help people why don't you then start in Somalia??????? I am of support of Col. Muhamar gadaffi, but i do think he should have stepped down long ago though! The NTC can not defeat the truth! because one day when they will not be able to give lybians the same level of life gadaffi gave them, people will turn against them too. Africa in a field of comedied one can tell! when a bullet strikes a neighbor we tend to enjoy their screems!!! its about time we unite and really understand that the west is against the rest!

      slg - 2011-09-29 15:48

      One day, a long, long time from now. Actually, never. Your truth is not the truth at all.

  • tee-hee-hee - 2011-09-29 15:34

    Fuk NATO

      slg - 2011-09-29 15:48

      That'll get them, for sure.

      Delusion - 2011-09-29 17:51

      Yes, As a Lybian myself, I agree with tee-hee-hee, FUK us, the Lybian people as well - how dare we rebel against our brutal mass murderer despot of 40 years? Shame on you - Nato, the West, the white press, Israel, you colonialists (excluding China) for liberating the Lybian People. It was a disgrace....

  • Boetman - 2011-09-29 15:54

    Flee, surrender or is all coming together in Libia. Another sad African country.

      slg - 2011-09-29 20:15

      Libya is likely to be a shining star. Six million people in a democracy with all that oil revenue.

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