The battle for Libya continued yesterday with government forces launching bold counter-attacks on the counter-revolutionary ‘rats’ in the wake of Thursday night’s call to arms from Muammar Gadaffi.
Government forces exchanged artillery fire with forces led by UK and French special forces during heavy fighting at Bin Jawad, 60 miles from Gadaffi’s home city of Sirte.
NATO said strike missions on Sirte have been trying to disable Scud capabilities and a convoy of government fighters heading to Misrata.
As RAF Tornado fighter-bombers launched overnight raids on Sirte, government forces launched attacks from near the Rixos Hotel and Bab al-Aziziya compound in the early hours of yesterday.
And a Libyan civilian plane was destroyed in a rocket attack by Al-Gadaffi brigades in Tripoli Airport.
NATO claimed there were only three strike missions in Tripoli yesterday, but 33 armed vehicles were targeted in Sirte by UK bombers operating from RAF Marham in Norfolk.
A desperate ‘rebel’ leadership in the self-styled National Transitional Council (TNC) yesterday pleaded with the United States and other countries to unfreeze billions of Libya’s dollars, saying the funds are needed to pay wages.
NTC senior figure Mahmoud Jibril told reporters at a Libya Contact Group conference in Turkey that the money was needed to ‘restore stability’, stressing: ‘This is urgent.’
His call for funds came a day after the UN Security Council’s sanctions committee approved a US request to free up $1.5bn of Libyan assets frozen at the start of the war, after agreeing a form of words acceptable to South Africa’s leadership.
The African Union has said it will ‘not explicitly recognise’ the NTC.
Meanwhile, attempts to convince the world that the NTC had moved a rebel ‘seat of government’ to Tripoli from Benghazi failed to impress – despite a ragged press conference in a Tripoli hotel – and the vast majority of NTC leaders continued to skulk in Benghazi.
Some of the barbarism of the imperialist mercenaries and counter-revolutionaries was on display yesterday when TV images showed the bodies pro-Gadaffi young men with bound limbs.
The UN called on both sides to avoid revenge killings as evidence emerged of executions in Tripoli.
In his response to calls for surrender in his audio message on Thursday, Gadaffi said: ‘Do not leave Tripoli for the rats, do not leave them. Fight them, destroy them.’