Rebels retreat as Gaddafi loyalists stage a fightback
Published 17/09/2011 | 05:00
Muammar Gaddafi supporters put up fierce resistance against revolutionary fighters last night, forcing rebels to retreat to nearby mountains.
The fighting turned Gaddafi's seaside home town of Sirte into a battlefield of snipers firing from mosques and heavy weapons rattling main boulevards.
The tough defence displayed the firepower and resolve of the Gaddafi followers and suggested Libya's new rulers may not easily push aside the remnants of the old regime.
In the mountain enclave of Bani Walid, about 90 miles south-east of Tripoli, revolutionary forces pulled back after a day of intense fighting that failed to dislodge pro-Gaddafi snipers and gunners from strategic positions.
In Sirte, on the Mediterranean coast, Gaddafi's backers rained gunfire down from mosque minarets and high-rise buildings on fighters pushing into the city from the west, while in the streets the two sides battered each other with high-calibre machine guns, rockets and rocket-propelled grenades.
"The Gaddafi loyalists have so many weapons," said Maab Fatel (28), a revolutionary fighter on the frontlines in Bani Walid. "This battle is really crazy."
Dr Ihab Agha, a field doctor, said at least five rebels were killed and more than 20 wounded, including one fighter who had both legs amputated because of severe injuries.