Fierce fighting continued in the Libya capital yesterday as government forces remained in control of large areas of Tripoli, holding off SAS-led mercenaries and counter-revolutionaries from the airport and the centre and south of the city.
Government spokesman Moussa Ibrahim confirmed Libyan leader Colonel Muammar Gadaffi ‘is alive and well’ as NATO continued its deadly bombing raids on Tripoli, on Sabha in the south and on Sirte.
Despite this, the heavily fortified home city of Libyan leader Colonel Gadaffi saw off desperate ‘rebel’ attempts at capture.
Rebels advancing towards Sirte were blocked in the town of Bin Jawad as loyalists kept up stiff resistance.
Despite NATO bombings, government forces also continued to hold Sabha, 650km to the south in the desert.
Special forces from Britain, France, and the US had stepped up operations in Tripoli and other cities.
But a senior rebel official said a large portion of the southern half of the capital remained dangerous.
Tripoli residents complained to the BBC that ‘things were better as they were, we’ve no water, we can’t wash, take a shower, it’s bad for the family’.
And with casualties mounting, Tripoli hospitals have been overwhelmed.
The emergency co-ordinator for the medical charity Medecins Sans Frontieres in Tripoli, Henry Gray, said: ‘There’s a huge gap in basic nursing care, in cleaning, in laboratory technicians.
‘The other main need is in the supply of specialist orthopaedic equipment, but also in terms of anaesthesia drugs, antibiotics for victims of gunshots, explosions, that type of thing.’
Hopes of the counter-revolutionary so-called National Transitional Council (NTC) moving to Tripoli from Benghazi had faded.
The NTC is desperate for cash and has appealed to its imperialist masters.
UK foreign secretary Hague was noticeably unsure when confirming that the UK and US were pushing for a UN resolution to unfreeze Libyan assets to help the rebels establish control.
He said securing Russian and Chinese agreement for such a move would ‘take some negotiation’.
He admitted that there remained several thousand fighters loyal to Gadaffi and ‘huge numbers of weapons’ at large in the country.
UK Defence Secretary Fox confirmed earlier that Nato was providing intelligence and reconnaissance support but declined to comment on reports that the SAS is leading the hunt for Gadaffi after the NTC put a $1.7m bounty on the Libyan leader’s head.
The NTC said Gadaffi was wanted ‘dead or alive’ and promised an amnesty to any of his inner circle prepared to betray his whereabouts.
SAS soldiers, who have been dressed in Arab civilian clothing and carrying the same weapons as the rebels, have reportedly been ordered to switch their focus to the search for Gadaffi by Cameron.
The UN sanctions committee released $500m of frozen Libyan assets on Wednesday night following a request by the US.
But the release of a further $1bn was blocked by South Africa, which said it wanted to wait for guidance from the African Union, which has not recognised the NTC as Libya’s legitimate authority.
Cameron phoned South African President Jacob Zuma yesterday morning in a bid to get him to back the release of more Libyan funds.