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Rebels prepare for final push into Sirte

Reuters/Goran Tomasevic
2 min

Nato-backed Libyan rebels are reported to be on the outskirts of Moamer Kadhafi's hometown of Sirte on Monday as they closed in from east and west for the final big battle for full control of Libya. 

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Fierce fighting is also raging in the west of the country as rebels, trying to take control of the region from Kadhafi's forces, said they had fallen into an ambush in a town southwest of Zuwarah.

Rebel forces have moved to within 30 kilometres of Sirte from the west and captured Bin Jawad 100 kilometres to the east, the rebel commander in Misrata told the French news agency.

Rebels pushing west from the oil hub of Ras Lanuf had been stuck for four days outside Bin Jawad, a key town on the coast road of the Gulf of Sirte, as Kadhafi's forces kept up a defiant resistance.

Although Kadhafi's whereabouts remain a mystery, there is widespread speculation that he is holed up in Sirte, 360 kilometres east of Tripoli, among tribal supporters there.

The rebels say they are negotiating with tribal leaders in the city for Sirte's peaceful surrender. They added only leaders are involved in talks and no direct contact had been made with Kadhafi himself.

Sirte has been targeted by Nato warplanes, which in the past few days have destroyed more than 50 military vehicles, two military shelters, a military observation point and a military engineer asset.

The strikes follow a bombing raid by British warplanes against a large headquarters bunker in Sirte late Thursday.

As rebels work to get the capital Tripoli back on its feet, the Arab League on Sunday urged the UN Security Council to unlock billions of dollars in Libyan assets and property.

Some 70 per cent of homes in central Tripoli have no running water because of damage to the network, but drinkable water is being distributed from mosques, NTC officials said.

 

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