August 17, 2017

Libya rebels push Gaddafi forces back in Misrata

Idea #57 from the book - 101 Uses for a Hole in the Wall.

Rebels in the Libyan port city of Misrata claim to have pushed pro-Gaddafi forces out of the outskirts of the besieged city.

For two months the city has been under siege from forces loyal to Colonel Muammar Gaddafi. It has been the only outpost in Western Libya still in Rebel hands.

Misrata has become a symbol of rebel defiance, but it has paid a heavy price for its resistance. Artillery and rocket attacks have taken a toll on the civilian population. Aside form the dead and injured, essential services have been cut and food and medicine supplies scarce.

The rebels say the city is still surrounded and within rocket range, but that they have advanced about 30km West towards the capital, Tripoli.

Libyan state media has said Nato aircraft bombed “military and civilian targets” in Misrata and the nearby town of Zlitan on Monday.

In a statement, Nato said a sortie near Misrata on Sunday hit rocket launchers, artillery and three buildings which were “hosting active shooters”.

Medical sources say at least 300 people have been killed by the weeks of fighting in Misrata.

A rebel spokesman says, “The revolutionaries control the western side while the brigades are still holding the south-eastern side of the airport,” adding that they had been “aided by recent Nato air strikes”.

A Red Cross ship has successfully docked in Misrata, bringing medical equipment, baby food and spare parts for electrical and water systems.

Nato Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen has told CNN that Col Gaddafi has been “stopped in his track” and that his time is running out.

“The game is over for Gaddafi. He should realise sooner rather than later that there’s no future for him or his regime,” he said.

The problem for NATO is that Gaddafi needs a place to go to. If there is a viable exile destination for Muammar he might take it. At the moment he has nothing left to lose by fighting on.

The NATO air cover means that offensive action by pro-Gaddafi forces is almost impossible. To attack rebel held towns they need to break cover and the NATO jets will be waiting for them.

This stalemate will eventually be broken by rebel forces who are now having the tie to train and re-equip. They will only get stronger while Gaddafi with sanctions in place can only stay the same or get weaker.

Militarily, Gaddafi is defeated. The only hope for the Colonel is if the political situation around the United Nations no-fly resolution deteriorates and the Western allies fracture. Until then the Gaddafi regime is dying a slow death.