Libya's Gaddafi trains volunteer army to fight NATO

Wed Apr 27, 2011 10:37pm GMT

By Lin Noueihed

TARHUNAH, Libya (Reuters) - The man squats down and fires. A rocket-propelled grenade shoots into the desert to calls of "Allahu Akbar," God is Greatest. Another man takes his place.

These are members of the volunteer army being trained by Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi in the name of fighting any NATO ground invasion.

Libyan officials have said in recent weeks that they had begun arming and training civilians across government-controlled western Libya, in an effort to put the country's tribes at the forefront of the fight against NATO attacks.

In a government-organised trip on Wednesday, journalists were taken to Tarhunah, 85 km (53 miles) southeast of Tripoli, to meet the volunteers who are being armed and trained there.

In the garden of an abandoned medical centre, a rag tag group of about 80 men, from youths to old tribal leaders, sat in circles on the grass, watching listlessly as soldiers demonstrated how machine guns and grenade launchers work.

"We have trained 400 people so far and given them arms. We started with the NATO strikes," said Jamal Ibrahim Abu Ghrara, an agricultural engineer and head of the local people's committee who was supervising the training.

Another 14 committees have also trained volunteers to fight what they see as a possible NATO invasion.

But the United Nations Security Council resolution under which NATO is carrying out air strikes in Libya does not provide for troops on the ground.   Continued...

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