Skip to main content

Anti-Gadhafi forces take over port in Sirte

By the CNN Wire Staff
updated 10:03 AM EDT, Tue September 27, 2011
A National Transitional Council fighter practices firing his machine gun, 20 kilometers west of Sirte on September 26.
A National Transitional Council fighter practices firing his machine gun, 20 kilometers west of Sirte on September 26.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NATO says 200,000 Libyans are still under threat
  • Anti-Gadhafi forces seize the port of Sirte after fierce fighting
  • Libya's new leadership will meet again Tuesday to discuss an interim government
  • Anti-Gadhafi forces do not have control of the entire city of Sirte

Tripoli, Libya (CNN) -- About 200,000 Libyans remain under threat as Moammar Gadhafi loyalists battle to the end in the only two areas still contested in Libya: Bani Walid and Sirte, the coastal birthplace of the fallen leader.

Fierce fighting yielded a path into Sirte's port Tuesday for revolutionary fighters, approaching the besieged city first from the south, then the west. With supply routes largely severed, water, food and medicine are in short supply, said Col. Roland Lavoie, military spokesman for NATO.

He said the shortages and a lack of electricity have placed enormous pressure on the civilian population, who are also being used as human shields by Gadhafi loyalists. One of their staging areas has been the main hospital in Sirte, where Gadhafi's fighters feel protected from NATO airstrikes.

Control over the strategically important Sirte port has changed hands before -- anti-Gadhafi fighters have previously taken the port during the day and retreated at night.

"We consider it contested," Lavoie said about Sirte. "So it means that a big part of the town is controlled by Gadhafi forces."

He said National Transitional Council forces have made significant gains in Sirte over the last three days but it would be "premature to go farther than that" in making an assessment.

Struggle for Sirte
Thousands abandon Libyan town

Meanwhile, in the eastern city of Benghazi, transitional council members were meeting for a third day to discuss forming a government.

Council members previously agreed the government should include a premier, a vice premier and 22 ministers.

But an announcement of the new government's creation should be contingent on wresting control of all cities from forces loyal to Gadhafi, said senior council member Abdulrazag Elaradi.

The meetings began Sunday, and the formation of a government could take up to a week.

The council said it will expand as cities are liberated to ensure representation in all regions of the country.

The council announced Saturday that it had advanced into Sirte following 24 hours of NATO aerial bombardments.

"Among the reports emerging from Sirte are executions, hostage-taking and the calculated targeting of individuals, families, and communities within the city," NATO has said. The organization has also pointed to mercenaries employed by the pro-Gadhafi side and civilians denied access to critical food, water and medical care.

The battle for Sirte has been difficult because Gadhafi loyalists have been using snipers and advanced weapons such as machine guns, according to the revolutionary fighters.

CNN's Mohammed Tawfeeq and Tommy Evans contributed to this report.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 7:36 PM EST, Tue March 5, 2013
Shortly after the attack on the U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi last September, a phone call was placed from the area.
updated 9:07 PM EST, Thu February 7, 2013
A testy exchange erupted between Sen. John McCain and Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey during the latter's testimony about September's deadly attack on the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya.
updated 9:16 AM EST, Thu January 24, 2013
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton took on Republican congressional critics of her department's handling of the deadly September terrorist attack in Libya.
updated 8:22 PM EST, Wed January 23, 2013
The Pentagon released an hour-by-hour timeline of the September 11 assault on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya.
updated 11:13 AM EST, Tue January 29, 2013
Bilal Bettamer wants to save Benghazi from those he calls "extremely dangerous people." But his campaign against the criminal and extremist groups that plague the city has put his life at risk.
updated 8:16 AM EDT, Sun September 23, 2012
Two former Navy SEALs who died last week in an attack on a U.S. consulate in Libya died after rushing to help their colleagues.
updated 10:24 PM EDT, Tue September 18, 2012
The former Pakistani Ambassador to the UK, Akbar Ahmed, explains why an anti-Islam film has triggered massive protests.
updated 11:01 AM EDT, Fri September 14, 2012
The fall of dictatorships does not guarantee the creation of free societies, says Ed Husain, author of "The Islamist."
updated 11:32 AM EDT, Tue September 25, 2012
Protests have swept the world following the online release of a film that depicts the Prophet Mohammed as a womanizer, child molester and killer.
updated 6:56 PM EDT, Wed September 19, 2012
A satirical magazine pours further oil on the fiery debate between freedom of expression and offensive provocation.
Was the attack on the Libyan U.S. Consulate the result of a mob gone awry, a planned terror attack or a combination of the two?
The images of the American embassy burning in Benghazi might have conjured up memories of Tehran in 1979 but the analogy is false.
updated 10:57 AM EDT, Mon September 17, 2012
Libyan authorities have made more arrests in connection with the attack on the U.S. consulate that left four Americans dead.
updated 7:59 PM EDT, Mon September 17, 2012
Three days before the deadly attack in Benghazi, a local security official says he warned U.S. diplomats about deteriorating security.
For the latest news on developments in the Middle East and North Africa in Arabic.
ADVERTISEMENT