Libya rebels push towards capital to aid revolt

Sun Aug 21, 2011 3:12pm GMT
 

If the Libyan leader is forced from power, there are question marks over whether the opposition can restore stability in this oil exporting country. The rebels' own ranks have been wracked by disputes and rivalry.

REVOLT PREMATURE?

Rebels said after a night of heavy fighting, they controlled a handful of city neighbourhoods. Whether they hold on could depend on the speed with which the other rebels reach Tripoli.

"The rebels may have risen too early in Tripoli and the result could be a lot of messy fighting," said Oliver Miles, a former British ambassador to Libya. "The regime may not have collapsed in the city to quite the extent they think it has."

But the rebel advance towards the city was rapid, and there was no sign of fierce resistance from Gaddafi's security forces. In the past 48 hours, the rebels west of Tripoli have advanced about 25 km, halving the distance between them and the capital.

Government forces put up a brief fight at the village of Al-Maya, leaving behind a burned-out tank, and some cars that had been torched. "I am very happy," said one resident.

The anti-Gaddafi fighters paused long enough to daub some graffiti on walls in the village. One read "We are here and we are fighting Gaddafi," another, "God is great." They then moved on towards Tripoli.

In Benghazi, the eastern Libyan city where the anti-Gaddafi revolt started and where the rebels have their main stronghold, a senior official said everything was going according to plan.

"Our revolutionaries are controlling several neighbourhoods and others are coming in from outside the city to join their brothers at this time," Abdel Hafiz Ghoga, vice-chairman of the rebel National Transition Council, told Reuters.   Continued...

Libya's leader Muammar Gaddafi looks on during a news conference at the Quirinale palace in Rome in this June 10, 2009 file photo.   REUTERS/Max Rossi/Files
 
Powered by Reuters AlertNet. AlertNet provides news, images and insight from the world's disasters and conflicts and is brought to you by Reuters Foundation.