Thursday 23 November 2017

Gaddafi 'attacking civilians' despite allied military action

Libyan rebels unload rocket propelled grenades from a car as they massed for a second day outside the key city of Ajdabiya. Photo: Getty Images
Libyan rebels unload rocket propelled grenades from a car as they massed for a second day outside the key city of Ajdabiya. Photo: Getty Images

Steven Swinford in Misrata

THE head of US forces in Libya claimed yesterday that Col Muammar Gaddafi was continuing to attack civilians despite the allied military intervention.

Adml Samuel Locklear, who has joint responsibility for enforcing the no-fly zone, said that, according to US intelligence, Gaddafi had launched attacks on the rebel-held western city of Misrata, where four children were reportedly killed by shelling yesterday.

"It's my judgment that, despite our success, Gaddafi and his forces are not yet complying with the UN resolution due to the continued aggressive actions his forces have taken against the civilian population of Libya," he said.

His comments followed reports that Misrata was under siege by Gaddafi's forces. Tanks and snipers have been deployed to the city centre, killing more than 40 people and injuring 300.

Doctors described desperate scenes as hospitals struggled to cope with the number of injured. Surgeons were forced to operate on bullet and shrapnel wounds in hospital corridors because of a lack of space.

One doctor, speaking on condition of anonymity, said: "They are talking about a ceasefire, they are talking about a no-fly zone, for me that does not mean anything. My people here are under attack.

"In my hospital here, we have no electricity and we work with a generator. We are relieved to hear about the air strikes and the coalition forces, but on the ground we are dying every day."

Another doctor said: "Snipers are everywhere in Misrata, shooting anyone who walks by while the world is still watching. The situation is going from bad to worse. We can do nothing but wait. Sometimes we depend on one meal per day."

The dead children, two boys and two girls, were reportedly being driven out of the city when their car was hit by a shell. The oldest was 13.

"It's horrible. Their father has collapsed and is in total shock," said Saadoun, a resident.


Gaddafi's forces were also trying to seize the western town of Zintan, near the Tunisian border, and launched attacks using heavy weapons. Many residents have already fled the town centre to seek shelter in mountain caves.

Several houses and a mosque minaret were destroyed by shelling.

Abdulrahmane Daw, a resident, said: "New forces were sent today to besiege the city. There are now at least 40 tanks at the foothills of the mountains near Zintan."

There was also fighting in the rebel-held town of Yafran, south-west of Tripoli, where at least nine people were reported to have died. One resident said: "We had been waiting for the coalition to stop the advance of Gaddafi's battalion.

"In the absence of such an intervention, the regime wanted to take the city quickly by bombarding it and carrying out massacres."

Despite the international intervention, the rebels had made little progress yesterday, raising concerns about their organisation and leadership. In eastern Libya they remained stationed outside Ajdabiyah, having made no further advance on the strategic town.

Ahmed al-Alroufi, a rebel fighter, said: "Gaddafi has tanks and trucks with missiles. We don't depend on anyone but God, not France or America. We started this revolution without them through the sweat of our own brow, and that is how we will finish it."

Adml Locklear added that Qatar's air forces would be "up and flying" by the weekend, making it the first Arab state to help enforce the no-fly zone. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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