Kim Sengupta: If rebels seize Gaddafi's birthplace, he is finished
Published 29/03/2011 | 05:00
There were skirmishes on the way and a few panicked retreats but, slowly, the rebel forces were getting towards their goal -- Sirte, Muammar Gaddafi's birthplace, a fiercely loyal stronghold and a key strategic point in moving on the Libyan capital, Tripoli.
The scale and nature of resistance from the regime's soldiers indicated how much their firepower had been devastated by Western air strikes. There was little of the heavy shelling that had made the revolutionary forces flee in the past. This was replaced instead by sporadic rockets and small-arms clashes on the ground.
The rebel commanders, nonetheless, remain worried after reports that the male population of Sirte had been armed and what remains of the regime's armour and artillery on the eastern front has been deployed to protect the city. Renewed bombing of the military positions in the city by international coalition warplanes are said to have caused some damage, but the city remains well guarded.