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Fighters plan assault on Gaddafi hometown
Rebels await reinforcements from Tripoli before final push against Gaddafi loyalists amid dissent over NTC appointments.
Last Modified: 29 Aug 2011 08:10

Libyan fighters are awaiting reinforcements from Tripoli as they push towards Muammar Gaddafi's hometown of Sirte.

According to Al Jazeera's Zeina Khodr, the fighters are anticipating that more men will join them from the capital for what is expected to be the final push against Gaddafi loyalists, but our correspondent said there appeared little likelihood that the reinforcements would arrive soon.

"There is no lack of men, with no lack of weapons, but what they do lack are trained fighters," Khodr said on Monday.

"Until Tripoli is secure we are not going to see these fighters... and you are going to need them if you are going to open new battles in Sirte or in Sabha further south, another stronghold of the Libyan leader."

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

As fighters advanced towards Sirte, 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 NTC 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.

Their advance came amid the grisly discovery in a warehouse in Yarmouk near Tripoli of some 150 dead bodies. The men had reportedly been executed by members of the Khamis Brigade, a powerful Gaddafi military force run by his son Khamis.

Al Jazeera's Khodr said the bodies were found inside a makeshift jail where "Gaddafi's forces opened fire and threw grenades" at the detainees.

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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