Inexperience costing rebels in advance on Tripoli

Sun Jun 19, 2011 1:16pm GMT

* Slow progress is testing NATO unity

* Heavy casualties for little ground gained

* Hazy command structure leading to tactical blunders

By Matt Robinson

MISRATA, Libya, June 19 (Reuters) - The fighting in farmland west of the port city of Misrata is exposing the weakness and inexperience of rebels who are trying to advance the Libyan capital Tripoli.

The rebels are taking heavy casualties for little ground gained. And the slow slog is also testing the unity of the NATO alliance which supports them from the air.

Eight more rebels had died by early Sunday afternoon in heavy artillery barrages, bringing the toll in just over a week to more than 40.

About 200 have been wounded -- a huge loss in manpower for a rebel force that has already expended so much to break out of Misrata, scene of some of the bloodiest fighting in Libya's four-month-old uprising.   Continued...

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