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Gaddafi loyalists stage desperate defence in stronghold of Sirte

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Chris Stephen
London Guardian
Sept 18, 2011


Three days after a massive rebel force of 900 armed pickup trucks, supported by tanks and Nato bombers, surged into the city that is Muammar Gaddafi’s birthplace and final coastal stronghold, loyalist units continue to resist.

It was not supposed to be this way. The rebels dominate the city, have captured the airport and units are surging through the countryside to the south. Yet loyalist forces continue to hold out four weeks after opposition forces arrived in Tripoli to proclaim that the Gaddafi regime was defeated.

“They’re crazy, they’re mad,” said Abdul Baset Hadia, a bearded fighter taking a break from the battle raging in the city. He said loyalist fighters were using civilians as human shields whenever they moved buildings, sending women and children into the street to stop the shooting. “They make a wall of women and children. We can finish it today but we know there are a lot of civilians there. We don’t want to kill them.”

He said loyalist units were fortified within “Ouagadougou”, a sprawling complex in whose great hall Gaddafi had nursed his ambition to be King of Africa. Many African leaders, grateful for the millions of oil dollars he gave them, were happy to applaud him when he held a summit for the Arab League and African Union here in October 2009.

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This article was posted: Sunday, September 18, 2011 at 6:06 am

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