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Libyan rebels scramble to hold control in battle for oil-rich Brega

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2011-03-04

A FRANCE 24 correspondent embedded with anti-regime fighters reports on the rebel response to a counter attack by Gaddafi loyalists, who briefly retook the oil port of Brega.

Military forces loyal to Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi launched a first counter attack on rebel-held eastern Libya on Wednesday, briefly regaining control of key locations in the oil port of Brega. FRANCE 24’s correspondents shot exclusive footage of the rebel militia’s desert fighting.

The rebels are for the most part civilians with no military training, and vary widely in age. “Were not asking for him [Gaddafi] to leave! We want him executed and hung in public!” shouts one rebel fighter, brandishing an automatic riffle.

The men scramble into jeeps and drive out toward the oil installation, displaying their revolutionary zeal, as well as a clear lack of experience and organisation. Riding along the coastline one rebel holds a grenade in one hand, and what looks like an ordinary kitchen knife in the other.

Following new orders, the convoy turns away from the oil installation and heads into the desert.

Both sides exchange gunfire for several hours. The rebels possess sophisticated weapons, including rocket launchers, but bear no uniforms or the usual trappings of professional soldiers.

Some of the men collapse from exhaustion after running and crawling over sand dunes. But constant communication with other rebel units and fresh supplies keep the fighters motivated.

The militia rejoices on the news that the Brega airport has been retaken from Gaddafi loyalists. The day’s fighting ends in triumph, but the real fighting seems just only begun for this makeshift group of rebels.

 


 

Date created : 2011-03-03

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