Gaddafi's dream in ruins

2011-10-13 12:59

Sirte – Muammar Gaddafi’s hometown Sirte, the city he once dreamed would be the capital of the United States of Africa, lay in ruins on Thursday, blitzed and largely overrun by the fighters the Libyan dictator called "dogs".

Burnt-out hulks of cars lined the streets where every building bore the rocket and bullet marks of the month-long siege National Transitional Council forces waged against pro-Gaddafi diehards before fighting their way in block by block.

NTC fighter Lutfy Al-Amin, from the city of Misrata, said he had visited Sirte many times before but barely recognised the once-wealthy city now.

"Everything is destroyed," he said on Wednesday as he and his comrades fought one of the last pockets of Gaddafi supporters still holding out in the city that before the siege was home to around 100 000 people.

"But it was their mistake. If they'd surrendered we wouldn't have done this," said the 37-year-old postal worker.

Al-Amin's own city was devastated by a months-long siege by Gaddafi forces after the uprising against the now fugitive strongman began in February.

But Misrata held out - despite the deaths of around 1 400 of its people - and its battle-hardened fighters later helped take the capital Tripoli before they headed to Sirte to continue their war there.

On Thursday they and fighters from the eastern city of Benghazi - where the uprising kicked off on February 17 - were streaming through most of Sirte firing their guns in the air in celebration.

Confiscated vehicles

They rode the city's streets in their black-painted pick-up trucks with machine-guns or anti-aircraft guns mounted on the back, fiercely proud of the victory that had left dozens of their companions dead and hundreds wounded.

Some green flags of the Gaddafi regime still flutter on rooftops but they were quickly being replaced with the red, black and green banners of the revolution.

Fighters moved from house to house, hunting for weapons or suspected Gaddafi fighters and sometimes making off with bags full of looted possessions and leaving trashed homes in their wake.

Some Sirte residents had remained throughout the siege. The new regime fighters suspected many of the men folk of being Gaddafi fighters and hauled them off to prison.

A procession of confiscated vehicles were driven or towed out of the town that Gaddafi transformed into a showcase of his self-proclaimed revolution.

After he seized power in 1969, he turned a sleepy Mediterranean seaside village into a small city with a massive programme of public work.

It was in Sirte that Gaddafi held a meeting of African leaders that established the African Union, which the dictator followed up with a proposal to create a United States of Africa with his hometown as the capital.

Ouagadougou conference centre

The centrepiece of Gaddafi’s grandiose project in Sirte was the Ouagadougou conference centre, a giant marble-lined hall where he hosted summits of foreign heads of state.

The centre was the target of heavy shelling by NTC fighters who later moved in and spread throughout the sprawling complex, tearing down portraits of the fugitive Gaddafi and the green flags of his fallen 42-year regime.

The centre's huge windows were all blasted and its metal roof had caved in under the artillery barrage.

The devastation was general across Sirte, from Gaddafi’s palatial compound - battered by Nato bombs - in the southwest to the four-lane beachfront highway, strewn with debris and lined with apartment buildings with gaping holes from artillery fire.

"We didn't do this for revenge. We just wanted to stop them and be free," said postal worker Al-Amin.

Read more on:    ntc  |  nato  |  muammar gaddafi  |  libya  |  north africa  |  uprisings  |  libya protests

Read News24’s Comments Policy 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
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining

Inside News24


ANCYL: Not voting would be blasphemy

Not voting in the forthcoming elections would be blasphemy, the ANCYL says in a statement commemorating the 50th anniversary of struggle icon Nelson Mandela's Rivonia trial speech.


Latest elections multimedia

Why Jack Parow wants you to vote on 7 May
The ad the SABC doesn't want to air
Elections 2014 in one cartoon
This year's election posters
  • Thursday Sir Lowry's Pass - 05:35 AM
    Road name: Old Sir Lowrys Pass Road
    TRAFFIC LIGHTS not working at Bezweni Road
  • Thursday Cape Town - 05:35 AM
    Road name: Buitengracht Street
    TRAFFIC LIGHTS not working at Waterkant Street
More traffic reports...

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Escape winter, head to Mauritius

Escape winter by spending 7 nights in Mauritius' tropical bliss from R13 215 per person sharing. Includes return flights, airport transfers and accommodation. Book now! - shop online today

Get many eggs in one basket!

Gaming bundles: 2 Super Hits games for R99, 3 Disney games for R99 and more + exclusive accessory bundles only available on While stocks last. Shop now!

25% off bestselling books!

The Real Meal Revolution by Tim Noakes, Jeffrey Archer’s Be Careful What You Wish for, Man’s Search for Meaning by Victor E. Frank and many more titles. Shop now!

Up to 25% off electronics

Buy top electronics and save up to 25%. Such as’s 1# selling product the gobii eReader, Patriot X Porter flash drive, Asus Nexus 7” 3G tablet, Samsung Galaxy SIII, Lenovo G580 Notebook and many more. Shop now!

DStv HD PVR Decoder now R949

The DStv HD PVR Decoder has further revolutionised the television experience with lifelike viewing, sharper images, more vibrant colours and precision picture quality. Now R949, save R550. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Up to 30% off appliances & homeware

Save up to 30% on appliances and homeware this Easter! 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

Samsung Galaxy S III 16GB

There are no straight lines in nature. The Samsung  GALAXY...

From R3515.00

I'm shopping for:


There may be a break through, either through quiet contemplative time to connect to your deep side or forced on you more

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


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 network.


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.