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Libya fighters surge towards Gaddafi hometown
Gaddafi supporters put up stiff resistance, as fighters push towards Sirte amid signs of dissent over NTC appointments.
Last Modified: 29 Aug 2011 06:37

Libyan fighters are advancing towards Muammar Gaddafi's hometown of Sirte, and have come under fire from forces still loyal to the embattled Libyan leader, Al Jazeera's correspondents reported.

"The main military push right now is the push towards Sirte... Sirte is certainly the focus for now," Al Jazeera's James Bays said, reporting from the capital, Tripoli, on Sunday.

Sirte is considered the last remaining bastion of support for the man whose decades-long rule of Libya is effectively over, with the National Transitional Council (NTC) now widely recognised as the country's legitimate government.

As fighters advanced west, there were pockets of dissent within the country accusing the NTC of not being transparent enough in nominating members for a new administration.

Al Jazeera's Andrew Simmons, reporting from a protest in Misrata, said: "They [the protesters] say the old guard of the Gaddafi regime are far too prominent in the list of people issued so far.

"They are also insisting there should be new faces for a new Libya.

"A lot of this is due to communications and the way the National Transitional Council has been concentrating so much on diplomacy and the economy, and maybe not looking inwards enough."

Key locations

Elsewhere in the country, fighters have gained control of a number of key locations over the last days, including Bin Jawad, which they claimed late on Saturday.

 Al Jazeera's Andrew Simmons reports from Misrata on dissent against the NTC's adiminstrative appointments.

Reporting from the city on Sunday, Al Jazeera's Jacky Rowland said: "Bin Jawad is now under rebel control, but the rebels warn us that the town itself is still quite unsafe".

The fighting then moved to the town of Nawfaliya, about 35km away from Bin Jawad, Rowland said, reporting from near the frontline.

"There was talk earlier of some last remaining areas of resistance by Gaddafi loyalists. But Libyan fighters have by-and-large taken the town of Nawfaliya."

Rowland said the fighters were waiting for reinforcements to arrive in Nawfaliya, after which their next objective was to fight off Gaddafi loyalists in the Red Valley, about 120km east of Sirte.

Meanwhile, Ahmed Bani, the Libyan fighters military spokesman, also told a news conference on Sunday that fighters control the road between Tripoli and Sabha, a bastion of support for Gaddafi in the southern desert.

The opposition's plan is to advance on Sabha after taking control of the coastal town of Sirte, the Reuters news agency reported.

Willing to negotiate

Meanwhile on Sunday, sources told Al Jazeera that Gaddafi was ready to discuss a transition of power to be negotiated by his son, al-Saadi.

Moussa Ibrahim, Gaddafi's spokesman, earlier told the Associated Press news agency in a phone call that Gaddafi was still in Libya and prepared to discuss the formation of a transitional government.

The phone call appears to represent a change of policy by Gaddafi, who last week referred to the rebels as "thugs" and "rats" and urged loyalists to continue fighting even as his opponents seized control of Tripoli.

But a top official in the NTC told Reuters that Libya's rebel government would not negotiate with Gaddafi unless he surrendered.

"No negotiation is taking place with Gaddafi," Ali Tarhouni, the NTC official in charge of oil and financial matters said.

Gaddafi's whereabouts remains unknown and fighters have offered a reward for his capture or killing.

Appeal for restraint

Mahmoud Jibril, a leading figure in the NTC, meanwhile, appealed for restraint and urged Libyans not to take revenge.

"Don't get taken aback while you are at the height of your celebrations... It's the right of all of us, to understand why we've been treated badly for the last 42 years. There will be a true opportunity for every prisoner to have a fair trial, and to see their way to the light.

"All Libyans have a responsibility today to protect their safety, what they own, and they must even protect those who have hurt us."

The Arab League readmitted Libya to the regional bloc on Saturday, turning over the country's seat to the NTC and effectively recognising the rebel body as the legitimate authority in Libya.

Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies
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