Rebels close in on Gaddafi's last bastion

2011-08-29 10:46

Tripoli - Libyan rebels backed by Nato were on the outskirts of Muammar Gaddafi's hometown of Sirte on Monday as they closed in from east and west for the final big battle for full control of Libya.

Sirte is the elusive Gaddafi's last bastion after rebels smashed his forces in Tripoli and seized his Bab al-Aziziya headquarters.

Fierce fighting also raged in the west of the country as rebels trying to wrest control of the region from Gaddafi's forces said they had fallen into an ambush in a town southwest of Zuwarah.

Rebel forces moved to within 30km of Sirte from the west and captured Bin Jawad 100km to the east, the rebel commander in Misrata, Mohammed al-Fortiya, told AFP.

"We took Bin Jawad today" on the eastern front, and "the thwar (rebel fighters) from Misrata are 30km from Sirte" in the west, Fortiya said.

Gaddafi possibly in Sirte

Rebels pushing west from the oil hub of Ras Lanuf had been stuck for four days outside Bin Jawad, a key town on the coast road of the Gulf of Sirte, as Gaddafi's forces kept up a defiant resistance.

Although Gaddafi's whereabouts remain a mystery, there is widespread speculation that he is holed up in Sirte, 360km east of Tripoli, among tribal supporters there.

"We are negotiating with the tribes for Sirte's peaceful surrender," Fortiya said, adding that only tribal leaders were involved, and that to his knowledge no direct contact had been made with Gaddafi himself.

But a spokesperson for the rebel National Transitional Council (NTC), Mahmud Shammam, warned that negotiations for Sirte's peaceful handover would not be open-ended.

"The negotiations will not go on forever," he said. "The talks are still going on... We would like to unify Libya very quickly."

Libyan money needed

Sirte has been targeted by Nato warplanes, which in the past few days have destroyed more than 50 military vehicles, two military shelters, a military observation point and a military engineer asset.

The strikes follow a bombing raid by British warplanes against a large headquarters bunker in Sirte late Thursday.

As rebels scrambled to get Tripoli back on its feet and appealed for funds, the Arab League on Sunday urged the UN Security Council to unlock billions of dollars in Libyan assets and property.

Some 70% of homes in central Tripoli have no running water because of damage to the network, but potable water is being distributed from mosques, NTC officials said.

Abed al-Obeidi, deputy chief of the transitional council in Tripoli, said the water problem was because of technical faults, denying that sabotage by Gaddafi's forces was to blame.

In the rebel bastion of Benghazi, military spokesperson Colonel Ahmed Omar Bani told reporters more than 10 000 captives have been freed from Gaddafi's jails since the fall of Tripoli but almost 50 000 others are still missing.

"The number of people arrested over the past months (of the anti-Gaddafi revolt) is estimated at between 57 000 and 60 000," he said.

"Between 10 000 and 11 000 prisoners have been freed up until now... so where are the others?"

"We hope that Gaddafi is still in Libya so we can rid the world of this insect," he said. "The only way to treat this pest is to make him accountable for the crimes in Libya."

Rebels’ control expanded

NTC head Mustafa Abdel Jalil has promised that Gaddafi and his senior aides would be given a fair trial if they surrendered.

"We call on Muammar Gaddafi and his associates to surrender so we can protect them and spare them illegal execution," he said in Benghazi. "We guarantee them a fair trial, whatever their position."

The rebels have offered a $1.7m reward for Gaddafi's capture, dead or alive.

Rebel pleas for cash help were heard loud and clear at Arab League headquarters in Cairo where a special meeting of foreign ministers urged "the UN and countries concerned" to "unfreeze the assets and property" of Libya.

Dr Najib Barakat of a local rebel council for Tripoli said there were enough medical supplies for three or four weeks, and that some 60% of the capital's medical staff were at work.

"All of Tripoli's hospitals are working," Barakat said, except at Abu Slim where around 80 decomposing bodies had been found. "The bodies have been removed and the hospital is being disinfected."

On Sunday, insurgents expanded their control over the airport and other parts of Tripoli where some resistance remained.

They captured the base of the elite 32 Brigade, commanded by Gaddafi's son Khamis, on Saturday after a Nato air strike and seven hours of fierce fighting that left 11 rebels dead.

In an adjoining cinder-block building, an AFP correspondent saw the charred remains of some 50 people who residents said were captives killed by Gaddafi forces on Tuesday with rifle fire and grenades.

A half dozen explosions were heard in the distance early Monday in Tripoli just after a Nato warplane flew over the Libyan capital.

The blasts were heard as rebels across the city celebrated their victory against the Gaddafi regime, firing automatic weapons into the air.

  • Macho Mike - 2011-08-29 11:04

    Time to end this conflict - kill Gaddafi, and Libya can get on with it's new found freedom. Only the AU do not like the idea, but then again not many like the AU.....

      beicime - 2011-08-29 11:11

      You are for sure are very Macho but only in the Internet. Why kill Gaddafi? Are you like him? Grow up.

      Wes - 2011-08-29 11:43

      beicime... so you support murderers and dictators?

      aperiozar - 2011-08-29 14:01

      Your're right beicime - his name says it all. People with mouths that are bigger than their brains. I knew many of them in the SADF during the Apartheid years.

      rams - 2011-08-29 15:04

      The poeple of Libya are not desperate to belong to the so called African Union.Thay have their own resources that can liberate them from the rset of African and still be able to make a living.Those people that were being finaced by Gaddafi like J.Zuma and and his cronnies are wandering where the money is gonna come from.They were bankrolled.Their election campaigns were being financed by Libya.who is going to brain wash people to vote for the ANC African National Corruption.

  • BigMoose - 2011-08-29 11:04

    Where is Brother Leader, and his evil brood?

  • beicime - 2011-08-29 11:13

    If I was Gaddagi I would rather die than surrender. He knows his future and will fight to the end. But... he was strong with an army behind him otherwise he is a coward and won't die.

      Flasheart - 2011-08-29 11:41

      How very Macho of you. "rather die than surrender". Are you like him? Grow up.

      Hannes - 2011-08-29 12:29

      Beicime ... I do not understand the statement: '...otherwise he is a coward and won't die.' Please enlihgten me.

  • John Burnstein - 2011-08-29 11:35

    You go Gadaffi, don't let these evil thugs take you that easy! Give them hell!!!!

      Anton - 2011-08-29 12:09

      One must be a scumbag beyond believe, to tell your followers, to fight to the end, and than yourself go into hiding or on the run. This gaddafi is not just a COWARD, but a piece of rubbish!!!

      John Burnstein - 2011-08-29 12:26

      No Anton, you are the rubbish!!! :)

      African'shtr - 2011-08-29 12:31

      Aluta Colonnel Gaddafi

      Ingwe - 2011-08-29 12:38

      Troll Alert = John Burnstein

      DeonL - 2011-08-29 12:46

      Gaddafi is no saint, but a mass murderer.

      John Burnstein - 2011-08-29 12:46

      Gay Alert = Ingwe

      aperiozar - 2011-08-29 14:03

      The rubbish, the scum in this case, are the American and NATO hired killers invading Libya. They instigated this 'uprising' because they have been planning to invade Libya for years. This is after all the country with the biggest oil reserves in Africa. Only a zombie will not smell oil when he sees an American by now.

      Anton - 2011-08-29 14:26

      John Burnstein Well, looking at the jubilation of Libyans, in areas taken over by the opposition, it would be fair to say, that most Libyans would not agree with you. But, for many radicals, that is not an issue!!!! Also an interesting fact; That not just most, BUT ALL, racist, hatred, filth and personal attacks, come from PRO GADDAFI SUPPORTERS Makes one think....does it not !!!!!!

  • spacecowboy - 2011-08-29 11:51


  • JackyMoon - 2011-08-29 11:53

    Wish the same could happen in Zimbabwe! But they have no oil so why should the West worry???

      john - 2011-08-29 12:15

      Why would the same happen in Zimbabwe? Has Mugabe denied his people the chance to vote? Has he supported the blowing up of American airliners or German night-clubs? Has he ever attempted to produce WMD? Has he sent arms to other dictators? Has he committed genocide/ethnic cleansing on the scale that happened in Bosnia? Southern African whites may consider Zim land grabs to be a greater atrocity against humanity than the Holocaust. NATO reserves the right to disagree. There are countries with far more serious issues which merit NATO's attention.

      john - 2011-08-29 12:22

      PS. How much oil did the West get from intervening in Bosnia?

      Peg-Leg-Sven - 2011-08-29 13:52

      john, what about the 20,000 people Mugabe slaughtered when he came to power and the thousands that he has killed since, do they not count as crimes against humanity?

      aperiozar - 2011-08-29 14:07

      John is a pro-American troll, probably being paid by his NeoCon masters. He spend his days justifying American evil all over the world. This is a full-time job - remember America has invaded more than 70 countries since WW2. The fact that they are responsible for the deaths of millions of people does not bother John at all - he is paid well enough to drink himself into oblivion before going to bed at night.

      john - 2011-08-29 14:25

      Peg-Leg-Sven and aperiozar, I'll let you two squabble about whether I'm a defender of the US or a defender of Mugabe. Wake me up when you've reached a decision.

  • DeonL - 2011-08-29 12:08

    It seems as if Gaddafi is one of the biggest mass murderer of Africa of all time? Hope he get's prosecuted.

      African'shtr - 2011-08-29 12:34

      if he is the biggest Murderer as yo say, what is NATO ?

      DeonL - 2011-08-29 12:44

      Nato is the saviour of Libyan people.

      john - 2011-08-29 12:47

      NATO have tried desperately to be mass murderers. But China and the Soviet Union are so much better at it that it's just not a fair contest. It's like Swaziland playing against the All Blacks in rugby.

      john - 2011-08-29 12:50

      Even when the West cheated and used the A-bomb against Japan, they only managed to kill about 1% of the number that Stalin and Mao killed. These guys were just so good at mass murder that you can't compete with them.

  • Christopher - 2011-08-29 12:18

    Gaddafi not in libya he is in zim

  • African'shtr - 2011-08-29 12:30

    why NATO is helping these so called Rebels?

      john - 2011-08-29 12:43

      For the same reason NATO helped the so-called "liberation struggle" by isolating the apartheid government. NATO comprises countries that promote democracy, when a govt or ruler refuses to grant a vote to his people, NATO will side against them.

      DeonL - 2011-08-29 12:45

      Someone should save Libya, the AU would not fix it in another 40 years. Thank you Nato.

  • matubeng - 2011-08-29 12:37

    Many rebel fighters are going to die in Sirte. In a war situation,there is always the "pinnacle" of the battle and Sirte is the place. After that Gaddafi is gone and the rebels will not handover their guns. There will forever be a war in Lybia for the next 42 years.

      john - 2011-08-29 12:44

      And what will happen after 42 years?

      matubeng - 2011-08-29 12:52

      You'll be dead,just wait.

      john - 2011-08-29 13:01

      I would sincerely hope so as I'd be way over 100 in 42 years time and life would be pretty grim at that age. But this is not about me, it's about Libyans. You say that there'll be a war for the next 42 years. I was asking what you think will happen after that?

  • aperiozar - 2011-08-29 14:13

    This is the biggest act of betrayal committed against an African country this century. The Americans and their NATO cronies have planned everything minutely. They instigated an uprising and when Gaddafi threatened to squash it, they used that as an excuse to invade the country to 'liberate' it. The fact remains, this is another American oil war, but more than that, it is also to establish extensive military bases on the African continent - as if the 700 they already have are not enough. Only dedicated NeonCons like John will support it.

      aperiozar - 2011-08-29 14:35

      More and more information is coming to light showing that the majority of these 'rebels' are not even from Libya. They were recruited and are paid by the Americans

      john - 2011-08-29 14:48

      Emperor, I sense that The Force is strong with this one. We should not underestimate the Jedi.

      daaivark - 2011-08-29 14:50

      ANd where is this evidence?

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