News / Africa

Libyan Rebels Move on Gadhafi's Hometown

A convoy of rebels travel in the direction of Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi's hometown of Sirte city near Bin Jawad, March 28, 2011
A convoy of rebels travel in the direction of Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi's hometown of Sirte city near Bin Jawad, March 28, 2011

Multimedia

Audio
Elizabeth Arrott

Libyan opposition forces are fighting for control of Sirte, the hometown of their avowed enemy, Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi. The rebels have taken swift advantage of a U.N.-backed military campaign that is now under NATO command.

Government forces have retreated from towns east of Sirte, allowing the rebels to sweep along the northern coastal highway. They are now believed to be encountering some resistance from loyalist troops on the outskirts of the town. Rebel forces have claimed they were in control of Sirte, but witnesses in the town report no signs of their presence.

A resident of Ras Lanouf, which was retaken by the rebels Sunday, says rebel forces have been seizing weapons as they move westward.

Oil worker Tarik el Maresh says the fact that the rebels were able to capture the weapons is proof of their strength as they move on to Sirte.

In Sirte, residents said they heard blasts from what they assumed were the coalition air campaign early Monday.  

Those U.N.-backed strikes appear to have been crucial in allowing the rebels to reverse their fortunes, bringing them from the brink of collapse to once again on the offensive.

In Tripoli late Sunday, government spokesman Mussa Ibrahim decried the campaign.

"Clearly the west, NATO, is taking sides in this civil conflict,” Ibrahim said. “It is illegal, hasn't been allowed or permitted by the Security Council resolution and it's immoral."

Libyan state television Monday showed video of civilians said to have been wounded in the coalition strikes in Sabha, about 200 kilometers south of Tripoli. The report could not be independently confirmed.

NATO, which declares it is neutral in the conflict, has now assumed full control of the mission, both the enforcement of a no-fly zone as well as extra measures meant to protect civilians. In the ten days since the campaign has been under way, that has included strikes on Ghadafi forces.

While others have joined in the questioning of the mission, in particular those parts that go beyond the no-fly zone, there appears to still be support in the region even though the targets remain pro-Gadhafi positions.

Political analyst Ziad Akl, of the Ahram Strategic Center in Cairo, says there are suspicions of Western military action in yet another Arab country, but this campaign will likely not carry with it any taint to the rebels.

"Despite the presence of opposing voices - no, the intervention does not limit the legitimacy of the rebels, because the majority of the participants, and the majority of those witnessing the events in Libya seem very much pro-western intervention," said Akl.

Not least of all it seems, because it appears very effective. Akl notes that the campaign has worked in two ways.

"It threatened the security of safe places that al-Gadhafi forces need to retreat now to guard,” Akl added. “And it also is a materialization of the process of regrouping and restructuring that the opposition forces witnessed through the last week."

The question now is whether that momentum can continue into the larger cities in the west, where loyalist forces are expected to dig in against the poorly equipped and loosely organized rebels.

Follow our Middle East reports on Twitter
and discuss them on our Facebook page.

You May Like

Is Air Travel Safe?

Aviation expert says despite tragic losses of Malaysian Airlines flights 370 and 17, industry experienced lowest fatality rate in recorded history last year More

Multimedia 100 Days Later, Nigerian Girls Still Held

Activists holding rallies in Nigeria and several other countries to mark 100th day of captivity for more than 200 schoolgirls being held by Boko Haram More

Chocolate Too Bitter? Swap Sugar for Mushrooms

US food technology company develops fermentation process using mushrooms to reduce bitterness in cocoa beans, believes it will cut sugar content in candy More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Carriers Suspend Travel to Israeli
X
Carolyn Presutti
July 23, 2014 1:21 AM
The United States is prohibiting American carriers from flying to Israel's airport in Tel Aviv for 24 hours, because of rising violence between Israel and Hamas militants. The action was announced on Tuesday, after a rocket fired by Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip landed near the airport. As VOA's Carolyn Presutti tells us, international officials soon may have to determine which combat zones are too dangerous for commercial flights.
Video

Video US Carriers Suspend Travel to Israel

The United States is prohibiting American carriers from flying to Israel's airport in Tel Aviv for 24 hours, because of rising violence between Israel and Hamas militants. The action was announced on Tuesday, after a rocket fired by Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip landed near the airport. As VOA's Carolyn Presutti tells us, international officials soon may have to determine which combat zones are too dangerous for commercial flights.
Video

Video NASA Focuses on Earth-Like Planets

For decades, looking for life elsewhere in the universe meant listening for signals that could be from distant civilizations. But recent breakthroughs in space technology refocused some of that effort toward finding planets that may harbor life, even in its primitive form. VOA’s George Putic reports on a recent panel discussion at NASA’s headquarters, in Washington.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Relic of Saint Draws Catholics Worried About Immigration Issue

A Roman Catholic saint who is a figure of devotion for those crossing the border into the United States is attracting believers concerned about the plight of undocumented immigrants. Mike O'Sullivan reports from Los Angeles, where a relic of Saint Toribio has drawn thousands to local churches.
Video

Video US Awards Medal of Honor for Heroics in Bloodiest of Afghan Battles

U.S. combat troops are withdrawing from Afghanistan, on pace to leave the country by the end of this year. But on Monday, U.S. President Barack Obama took time to honor a soldier whose actions while under fire in Afghanistan earned him the Medal of Honor. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from the Pentagon.
Video

Video Ukraine Rebels Surrender MH17 Black Boxes

After days of negotiations, a senior separatist leader handed over two black boxes from an airliner downed over eastern Ukraine to Malaysian experts early Tuesday. While on Monday, the U.N. Security Council unanimously demanded that armed groups controlling the crash site allow safe and unrestricted access to the wreckage.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.
Video

Video Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Age

Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.

AppleAndroid