Tuesday 23 January 2018

Fallen leader's town final hurdle in battle

Rob Crilly in Benghazi and Martin Evans in London

A MASSIVE aerial assault on Colonel Gaddafi's home town of Sirte yesterday was under way, as the rebels sought to make a decisive breakthrough.

As aircraft pounded specific targets in Sirte, where Gaddafi is believed to have stockpiled dozens of Scud missiles, British Defence Secretary Liam Fox called on the former Libyan leader to recognise that the "game was up".

But he warned that the level of resistance being met suggested the fighting could go on for some time. The National Transitional Council began the transfer of power from the rebel stronghold of Benghazi to Tripoli, where rebels continued to flush out remaining pro-Gaddafi units.

Rumours Gaddafi was still in the area and may attempt to flee disguised as a civilian led to tension and scuffles at roadblocks, where all vehicles were carefully searched.

Local military chiefs however, claimed yesterday that Libyan rebels controlled almost all of the capital.

"We control 95pc of Tripoli," said Abdel Nagib Mlegta, head of operations for the liberation of Tripoli. "There are just a few pockets of resistance," he said.

The capital remained calmer than in previous days as the main rebel push moved towards Sirte where the majority of Gaddafi's remaining loyalists are holed up.

Paving the way for the offensive, NATO aircraft, spearheaded by the RAF, flew more than 130 sorties taking out key targets.

The rebels have long believed that once they took Tripoli, Sirte would provide the final hurdle in taking overall control of the country. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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