Muammar Gaddafi’s hometown of Sirte was the target of libyan forces on Monday, hoping to seal their revolution by seizing the last bastions of a fallen but perhaps still dangerous strongman. Gaddafi’s whereabouts have been unknown since Tripoli fell to his foes and his 42-year-old rule collapsed a week ago.
The occupants of the capital, hit by shortages of food, fuel and water, ventured out to shop ahead of the Eid al-Fitr festival after the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan.”Thank God this Eid has a special flavor. This Eid we have freedom,” said Adel Kashad, 47, an oil firm computer specialist who was at a vegetable market. “Libya has a new dawn.”
Across Tripoli sporadic gunfire still echoed as residents tried to pick up their lives amid the stink of burning rubbish. Rejoicing at Gaddafi’s fall is not universal.”You media don’t tell the truth, you’re all traitors, spies,” shouted an enraged taxi driver in a loyalist district.Gaddafi strongholds In Sirte and some towns deep in the southern desert remain a challenge for Libya’s new rulers, who have vowed to take them by force, if negotiations fail.
“I call for continued protection from NATO and its allies from this tyrant,” Mustafa Abdel Jalil, chairman of the National Transitional Council (NTC) said in Qatar, a tiny but wealthy Gulf Arab state that has backed the revolt. “He is still a threat, not just for Libyans but for the entire world.”
Abdel Jalil was speaking at a meeting of defense ministers from countries that have supported the anti-Gaddafi movement.A NATO commander pledged to pursue the alliance’s mission, at least until its internal mandate expires on September 27.”We believe the Gaddafi regime is near collapse, and we’re committed to seeing the operation through to its conclusion,” U.S. Admiral Samuel Locklear, who heads NATO’s Joint Operations Command, told a news conference in the Qatari capital, Doha.He continued by saying that pro-Gaddafi forces diminish everyday and that the regime has no longer the capacity of engaging into a serious operation. In the end, he added that NATO air raids had destroyed 5,000 military targets in Libya.
NATO warplanes struck at Sirte, on the Mediterranean coast, for a third day on Sunday, a NATO spokesman said in Brussels. Britain said its aircraft also attacked artillery fired by Gaddafi forces near Sidra, west of the oil town of Ras Lanuf.