Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Misratans heavily involved in hostilities in and around Sirte

Concentrated fighting in Sirte, occupied by Colonel Mu'ammar Qadhafi's supporters, has caused much bloodshed, and losses will be calculated in thousands before an outcome is achieved both there and in Bani Walid. According to Menas sources, the Misratans are particularly heavily involved in the hostilities in and around Sirte. It is thought that local commanders of the rebel forces anticipate the core of the town to fall into their hands within a few days. Some 70 per cent of the area of Sirte has already been taken.

Misratans have complained bitterly about the lack of support from surrounding Libyan areas that have mobilised irregular forces at their disposal. Reinforcements, it seems, have been slow to arrive even though some of the groups are within 60km of Sirte itself. As was expected, resistance in the town has been strong, with parts of the brigade formerly under Khamis Qadhafi in place with substantial armaments and missiles.

The heavily armed and well trained Qadhafi troops have been more than the lightly-armed rebels can cope with on a hit-and-run basis. In Bani Walid, some of the resistance has been felt but the rebels have yet to concentrate the bulk of their armour. On the military side, events appear to be heading for a grim form of attrition, which could affect the response of other communities lying in the south-west of Sirte including Orfella, Bani Walid and other tribes of the interior.

This judgement takes no account of the dedication of the rebels but is realistic in relation to the smaller groups situated in the Orfella/Soffegin valleys. Their loyalties to local tribal alliances could prevail and act as a serious constraint on an advance by the rebels. It could also result in loss of momentum.

For more news and expert analysis about Libya, please see Libya Focus and Libya Politics & Security.

© 2011 Menas Associates

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