A Siege In Sirte As Qaddafi Still Evades Capture

The former Libyan leader's hometown is under intense fire from rebels and NATO

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Fighters for the independent government of Libya are laying Siege to Sirte, the hometown of former strongman Col. Muammar Qaddafi, who is still on the run.

The remaining loyalists have caused serious casualties to fighters from the National Transitional Council, the interim government, but the rebels are confident they will soon control the city.

From the Guardian:

The interim government's troops had to seek cover after coming under heavy bombardment from fighters loyal to Gaddafi. Two revolutionary fighters were killed and another three wounded in the exchanges.

The NTC forces pushed deep into Sirte on Friday, taking most of it street by street. At least 15 people were killed and more than 180 injured, doctors said. Thousands of civilians have left but many remain behind.

Gaddafi loyalists also remain entrenched in the city of Bani Walid, but the NTC intends to declare the country liberated once Sirte has fallen because they will then have control over all ports and harbours.

Mustafa Abdul-Jalil, the head of the governing National Transitional Council, said the battle was "ferocious".

"Our fighters today are still dealing with the snipers positioned on the high buildings and we sustained heavy casualties," he said.

The pro-Qaddafi forces are well-armed, as a video ostensibly showing them firing a Scud missile demonstrates.

Meanwhile, Qaddafi's whereabouts remain a mystery. But that hasn't kept him off the airwaves. The former leader appealed to Libyans to resist the new government in a broadcast on a Syrian TV station as the attack on Sirte progressed, AFP reported.

"I call on the Libyan people, men and women, to go out into the squares and the streets and in all the cities in their millions" to reject the National Transitional Council (NTC), the deposed leader, whose whereabouts are still unknown, said.

"I say to them, do not fear anyone. You are the people, you belong to this land.

"Make your voice heard against NATO's collaborators," he said, in reference to the new regime of the NTC.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.