Gadhafi Loyalists Continue to Defend Scattered Parts of Tripoli, Southern Libya
August 24, 2011
Edward Yeranian | Cairo
Fighting is continuing across parts of the Libyan capital, Tripoli, Wednesday, as Gadhafi loyalists attempt to defend their last enclaves in the city, as well as several cities still under Gadhafi control. The embattled leader described the fall of his Tripoli headquarters as a "tactical retreat," and he urged his partisans to continue fighting.
It was another day of fighting in parts of the Libyan capital, Tripoli, as Gadhafi loyalists used automatic weapons, anti-aircraft guns, mortar rounds and grad rockets to stave off a rebel advance on their last positions in the south of the city.
Witnesses say that snipers loyal to Gadhafi also have been firing from buildings along strategic roads, paralyzing life in much of the capital. Gadhafi supporters also have targeted the road to the airport in southern Tripoli, making its use unsafe, although the facility is now in rebel hands.
Gadhafi forces were routed from the Bab al Aziziya military complex Tuesday, but his supporters have regrouped in a wooded area south of the facility. Gadhafi loyalists also have detained over 30 foreign journalists in a luxury hotel, not far from the former government enclave.
Gadhafi delivered a rambling phone message to his supporters early Wednesday, over one of the few remaining TV stations he still controls. He urged supporters to come to Tripoli to free the capital.
He said that (his supporters), be they young, old, men or women, need to come to Tripoli from elsewhere, to clean up the capital and capture criminals, traitors and rats.
Gadhafi's government spokesman, Moussa Ibrahim insisted that the colonel's partisans are well armed and will continue to fight a guerrilla war that could last a long time.
He said that (the Gadhafi forces') military, strategic and popular situation is quite strong, and they can continue to fight not just for days and weeks, but for months and years. He called the fight against opposition fighters a plot against his country and said his side will continue to resist until it wins.
The man often described as the rebels' “prime minister”, Mahmoud Jibril, told a news conference late Tuesday that he expects a “bitter battle” to take the coastal port city of Sirte, which remains a Gadhafi stronghold. Gadhafi forces also continue to hold the oasis towns of Sabha and Jiffra, as well as small enclaves near the Tunisian border.
British Foreign Minister William Hague urged Gadhafi to give up the fight and accept the fact that his people want him to go.
“There's a clear, fundamental, decisive rejection of that regime by the people of Libya, and the regime has clearly lost control of most of the capital and much of the country," he said.
"I think it is time now for Col. Gadhafi to stop issuing delusional statements and to recognize that. He should be telling his dwindling and remaining forces now to stand down.”
On the diplomatic front, representatives of the rebel Transitional National Council are meeting with Western officials in the Qatari capital, Doha, in a bid to release Libyan government funds for use by the cash-starved rebel government. Rebel Prime Minister Mahmoud Jibril says that he needs $2.5 billion before the end of the month to pay salaries of civil servants.
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