Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 16 April 2014

Anti-Gaddafi forces make advances

Libyan revolutionary fighters fire towards pro-Gaddafi forces in Sirte, Libya (AP)

Revolutionary forces are pushing into the centre of Muammar Gaddafi's home town of Sirte, squeezing the remaining loyalist fighters still holding out.

Anti-Gaddafi fighters have captured the sprawling Ouagadougou Convention Centre as well as Ibn Sina Hospital on the south side of Sirte.

They are now battling loyalists in heavy street fighting focused around Green Square in the city centre.

At the hospital, hundreds of wounded civilians crowd the corridors. There is no electricity or water, and a handful of medical students and nurses are the only medical staff.

Revolutionary fighters roamed the hallways checking IDs, and took some people suspected of being Gaddafi fighters into custody.

The rebels' inability to take Sirte, the most important remaining stronghold of Gaddafi supporters, more than six weeks after anti-Gaddafi fighters seized the capital has stalled efforts by Libya's new leaders to set a timeline for elections and move forward with a transition to democracy.

Gaddafi supporters also hold the inland enclave of Bani Walid, where revolutionary forces also reported key gains after weeks of faltering advances that resulted in part from the challenging terrain of desert hills and steep valleys. Bani Walid is believed to be harboring high-level figures in the old regime.

The transitional leadership has said it will declare liberation after Sirte's capture because that will mean it holds all of the ports and harbours in the oil-rich Mediterranean coastal country.

Libya's de facto leader, Mustafa Abdul-Jalil, head of the governing National Transitional Council, said anti-Gaddafi fighters have made huge gains in Sirte and Bani Walid, south-east of the capital.

"I do believe, God willing, that the liberation of these cities will happen within this week," Mr Abdul-Jalil told reporters in Tripoli.

Latest News

Latest Sport

Latest Showbiz