Convoy zeroes in on Gaddafi hometown

2011-09-15 18:45

Al-Qaddahiyah - A convoy of battle-hardened fighters headed for Muammar Gaddafi’s hometown Sirte in gruelling heat Thursday, confident of overcoming one of the strongman's final pockets of resistance.

Cheered on by residents who flashed "V" for victory signs and chanted Allahu Akbar (God is greatest), the troops loyal to the National Transitional Council massed early morning in Misrata and then rolled out of the port city.

The convoy comprised of heavy artillery and pickup trucks loaded with machineguns, rocket launchers and Katyusha rockets, and its fighters were well stocked with food, water and ammunition.

But roadside support dropped off as the convoy headed through villages towards Sirte, with children and teenagers running alongside but adults standing further back with arms folded and showing little emotion.

The convoy split up at the desert town of Abu Qurin, from where one of its commanders said they would approach Sirte from three directions in a pincer movement.

"We are turning the tables on Gaddafi. We were attacked in Misrata on three fronts, and now we're going to attack Sirte on three fronts," said Fawzy Sawawy, head of the Mountains Brigade.

As they headed farther to the east, an AFP correspondent received unconfirmed reports that Nato struck a south-bound convoy of pro-Gaddafi armoured vehicles about 50km from Sirte.

Few simple battles

The rooftops of vehicles in the Misrata convoy were painted yellow and red in an apparent signal to Nato that they are not Gaddafi’s forces.

While wary of mercenaries, the young men in the convoy expressed confidence of overcoming the pro-Gaddafi forces in Sirte thanks to their combat experience in the devastating, months-long battle for Misrata.

"Misrata's forces are among the strongest and most experienced," Mohammed al-Gawi, a 24-year-old in the convoy, told AFP.

Another Mountains Brigade fighter, Ashraf al-Qot, said he expected the battle for Sirte to be harder than that for Tripoli, which fell in just a few days late last month.

"Sirte is not as big as Tripoli symbolically but we think the resistance in Sirte will be greater than that of the capital because Gaddafi’s soldiers retreated there," said Qot.

"Mercenaries do not surrender, they will fight till they die, but Gaddafi’s former soldiers might surrender because he's not likely to be there to command their loyalty," added the 17-year-old.

Ali Ligod, 25 and also from Misrata, predicted small clashes and a Tripoli-like retreat by Gaddafi’s men.

"In Tripoli, we thought there would be a huge fight but there were only a few simple battles," Ligod told AFP.

Top fighters

"We would prefer to settle things peacefully and not spill blood.

"We are not like Gaddafi’s forces. We value every soul from our ranks or theirs.

"We have a goal which is freedom; they have nothing."

The task of the forces loyal to Libya's new rulers appeared to have been made easier as their advance was preceded by a series of Nato air strikes in and around Sirte.

In an operational update, Nato said it had on Wednesday struck a command and control node, a military vehicle storage facility, four radar systems and two surface-to-air missile systems in the vicinity of Sirte.

And Khaled Bakir, a soldier from Misrata's Tripoli Street which Gaddafi’s forces notoriously flattened during the siege of the port city, vowed to overrun Sirte.

"Misrata has Libya's top fighters. Our spirits are high. We are going to erase Gaddafi and his men from the face of this earth," he said.

  • crackerr - 2011-09-15 20:51

    Only a total idiot can ever become "battle-hardened". All the crap that we get bombarded with!

      slg - 2011-09-15 21:15

      Not sure what you mean. Clearly there's a difference between someone who's just starting out as a fighter, and someone who's been at it for six months. In the case of the US, it's been ten years. Plus they've got all that technology. Nine out of Al-Quaeda's top twenty commanders have been killed in just two months. Those filling their shoes have little experience, if any at all.

  • Law01 - 2011-09-15 21:53

    What a Lie this is, The Rebels are being killed by the Western Murderers(NATO), Rebels were fooled by the West. Sarkozy is jewish, this is all part of the Zionist Plot to Rule The World.What is this invasion in the name of "liberating Libyans"??? Why not Zimbabwe, it is the OIL People, the Zionists want to control the entire Middle East and Oil Rich Countries. The Zionists were also behind the Crisis in Europe (eg:Greece). Could we be somewhere on their Hitlist?? Visit: and read the Book "confessions of an economic Hitman) by John Perkins STOP THESE MURDERERS!! Lawyer for Human Rights, Peace, Justice...

      slg - 2011-09-16 01:12

      What garbage is in your head!

      Anton - 2011-09-16 05:05

      Law01, We have heard this same silly stuff now for seven months. Just accept, its over. They are now only trying to find that coward and his lovely corrupt son , somewhere in a hole, and that's it. Libya has moved on. All these conspiracy stories have now become stale. Most of the world, including twenty African countries have now recognised the NTC, and a new era for Libya has started. And the difference between Libya and Zimbabwe is NOT oil!! If the Libyans would not have removed this gaddafi family, they would have been ruled by them, for another hundred years. But most Zimbabweans, correctly, did not want a bloodbath, and masive distruction, in their country. They know the day is near, that they wake up, and their tyrant will not!!! That silly rich bitch Grace, will just be a little irritation, probably by than already in Hong Kong, with her stolen loot!!! But Mr Lawyer for Human rights, Peace and Justice, you don't sound the brightest, so for you , it will be best to stick to; www.iamthekingofafrica.lib and www.f.ckthebritish.zim

  • khoi007 - 2011-09-16 08:25

    while the lybian people are being killed, the liberators are ploting for contracts to rebuild buildings and roads that they have bombed, eish AFRICA WE MUST UNITE

      Anton - 2011-09-16 08:38

      Khoi007, You will find on this site, some die-hard gaddafi supporters, who will agree with you, but it is doubtful, you will find many under the Libyan population. And, yes Africa should unite!!! What a shame that gaddafi did more to divide Africa, than any other African leader!!!!!

  • juliusedwa - 2011-09-16 09:36

    wether we like it or not this war is not justfiable

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