Tuesday 21 February 2017

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

Damian McElroy in Maya, Libya

Published 22/08/2011 | 05:00

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.

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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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