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Frustration, zeal mix in siege of Gadhafi bastion

September 18, 2011 • World News


Former rebel fighters put a pre-Gadhafi flag at the northern gate of Bani Walid, as smokes rises from the town, Libya, Sunday, Sept. 18, 2011. Libyan fighters are streaming into Bani Walid, one of the remaining bastions of ousted leader Moammar Gadhafi, in a new fierce push. The revolutionary forces, in dozens of pickup trucks mounted with heavy weapons, are making their way from the north into the town center. (AP Photo/Alexandre Meneghini)

WADI DINAR, Libya (AP) — The rockets and mortars rained down on the position where the revolutionaries had retreated on the outskirts of the mountainous stronghold of Moammar Gadhafi’s loyalists. So, in a fury, the fighters charged wild and unorganized Sunday back into the city for yet another day of fighting.

Fighters for Libya’s new rulers have been throwing themselves into the battle to take Bani Walid for days with no progress against the old regime loyalists, strongly fortified and bristling with heavy weaponry. The frustration is showing among the amateur revolutionary fighters.

“We expected this kind of resistance from Gadhafi forces, but I thought we could take them on,” said Mohannad Bendalla, a doctor treating wounded fighters at a field hospital set up outside of the city.

The official, trained military of the National Transitional Council, Libya’s interim government, has pulled away from Bani Walid to regroup and reinforce for a new assault after they were heavily beaten in the city Friday. That has left ragtag, undisciplined volunteers at the front line. Most are youths from the most die-hard revolutionary neighborhoods of Tripoli, like Souq al-Jomaa or Tajoura, strong on zeal to kill some Gadhafi supporters and weak on training on how to do so.

The amateur Tripoli fighters get lost in the neighborhoods rolling up and down Bani Walid’s confusing mountain ravines. Behind the front lines, frustrated fighters Login to read more

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