NTC forces enter Gaddafi hometown from east

Arab World Materials 27 September 2011 10:36
NTC forces enter Gaddafi hometown from east
NTC forces enter Gaddafi hometown from east

Azerbaijan , Baku, Sept. 27 / Trend A. Isgandarov/

Fighters supporting Libya's interim government have raced into the eastern outskirts of Sirte backed by NATO warplanes and are fighting street-to-street battles with loyalists of Muammar Gaddafi in his home town.

Thick black smoke billowed into the air as National Transitional Council (NTC) fighters battled at a roundabout about 2km from the centre of the key town on Monday, Al Jazeera reported.

The thud of large explosions could be heard as NATO aircraft roared overhead, but NATO would not comment on latest operations in Sirte.

NTC fighters fought with machineguns and rifles and moved tanks and heavy artillery into the town.

"[NTC fighters] are entering the city from the east for the first time," Al Jazeera reported.

"But there is only so much that NATO can do because there are civilians still in the city."

NTC fighters had pulled out of the town a day earlier after facing stiff resistance.

Mass demonstrations demanding for the ouster of Qaddafi, who has been ruling the country for more than 40 years, started in Libya in mid-February and subsequently grew into armed confrontation between the government forces and the rebels.

On August 23, 2011, Gaddafi lost control of Tripoli, and effective control of Libya with the rebels' capture of the Bab al-Azizia compound.

NTC forces now control most of Libyan territory, including the capital Tripoli. They have been trying to take several cities controlled by pro-Gaddafi troops, including Bani Walid and Sirte.