Friday 24 March 2017

'I've given up on my dad but I want to bring mother home'

Damian McElroy in Maya, Libya

MOHAMMAD Al-Jouma stared fiercely at the palm-fringed avenues of Tripoli yesterday as he explained, in a broad American accent, his quest to liberate the city at the end of his gaze.

As his band of fighters spearheaded the rebel assault into the heart of Colonel Muammar Gaddafi's capital, Mr Jouma declared he was on a personal mission that surpassed patriotic duty.

His parents are trapped in the capital, which is spiralling out of control under a regime viciously battling for its very survival.

"This is for my mom. I want to get in there and find her," he said, wincing from the pain of a flesh wound.

"My dad is in prison. He's a dentist, but they arrested him in February for opposition sympathies. To tell you the truth I've given up on my dad, but I want to bring my mother back to safety in the States."

Bullets whizzed past the fish restaurant where Mr Jouma, a 22-year-old Florida-born commercial pilot, and his resting comrades stood overlooking the tall chimneys of a power plant.

In a 20-mile push launched at dawn, Libya's rebels reached the suburbs of Gaddafi's capital by early afternoon.

The telltale flash of a grenade exploding in midair signalled the retreat of his troops -- part of a near non-stop artillery bombardment of advancing rebels.

In reply, a large-calibre anti-aircraft artillery piece pumped out rounds at government troops.

Mr Jouma's Tripoli Brigade has taken a key military base and the 27th bridge, the gateway to the capital, just a day after routing Gaddafi's forces in Zawiyah.

"From the gates of Zawiyah to the gates of Tripoli," said Ahmed Guide, another of the fighters.

"We are coming, Muammar." (© Daily Telegraph, London)

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