UPDATE 5-Gaddafi forces push rebels back to Bin Jawad

Tue Mar 29, 2011 4:13pm GMT

* Gaddafi forces step up counter-attack east of Sirte

* Some residents side with Gaddafi forces - witnesses

* "There are no commanders," says rebel fighter

(Updates rebel positions, adds rebel spokeswoman)

By Angus MacSwan

BIN JAWAD, Libya, March 29 (Reuters) - Libyan rebel fighters appealed for Western air strikes on Tuesday after a hail of machinegun and rocket fire sent them into a chaotic retreat from Muammar Gaddafi's forces east of his home town of Sirte.

Rebels waiting on the open desert road leaped behind dunes and mounds of earth and shot at Gaddafi forces as they arrived.

As the onslaught grew, the insurgents ran to their pick-up trucks and sped off eastwards down the road to Bin Jawad, 150 km (100 miles) east of Sirte.

Bullets zipped overhead and shells landed on and near the road as the rebels, poorly trained and without a firm command structure, retreated more than 10 km (six miles).   Continued...

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