Open

Coming up

Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

WEB NEWS

Providing Internet to rural areas

Read more

WEB NEWS

290 Syrian cultural sites damaged by civil war

Read more

WEB NEWS

The best viral Christmas ads of 2012

Read more

FASHION

Fashion, what's happened in 2014

Read more

FRANCE IN FOCUS

France: 2014 in review

Read more

#THE 51%

South Africa: Taking a stand against child marriage

Read more

DEBATE

The Future of the Book

Read more

DEBATE

The Future of the Book (part 2)

Read more

REPORTERS

France 24’s best documentaries of 2014

Read more

An in-depth report by our senior reporters and team of correspondents from around the world. Every Saturday at 8.40 pm Paris time.

REPORTERS

REPORTERS

Latest update : 2011-04-01

Libya, the battle of the East (part 1)

In the desert, anti-Gaddafi rebels launch their attack. For several days they seem unstoppable, Libya’s fate hangs in the balance. Having gained control of the east, the rebels move west, convinced that victory is close. Our reporters followed the advance of these young men who decided to grab a weapon and join the rebellion.

A special report by FRANCE 24's team: Jean-Marie Lemaire, Cyril Vanier, Chady Chlela, Jérôme Bonnard, Catherine Norris Trent, Willy Bracciano et Khalil Béchir.

Watch the second part of our exclusive report on Libya: 'The battle of the East'

I think the defining moment of our assignment in Libya took place in our hotel room in Ajdabiyah on Tuesday March 8th, as Ahmed finished trimming our sideburns. We were sending our latest report to the newsroom, and while the satellite fed the file through to Paris, we got the local barber to give us a cut.

He couldn’t have been more than 20 years old, dressed like a back-up dancer in a music video: sneakers, faded jeans, flashy T-shirt. As he put away his scissors, he looked slightly uneasy:

“Sorry guys, I have to go."

"Where?" we asked.

"To the frontline. I’m going to fight.”

The young, slightly chubby, fashion-conscious barber from Ajdabiyah was telling us he couldn’t hang around because he had a war to fight. One more combatant had joined the ranks of Libya’s rebellion.

Did he have any kind of military training? Did he know how to handle a weapon? No. But his friends were going, and he would too.

Ahmed packed his scissors, refused to take any money for the haircut, and left.

Although we did encounter some professional soldiers within the ranks of the rebellion, the majority of the insurgents we met were like Ahmed: improvised fighters.

We don’t know how much action Ahmed actually saw, how much fighting he got done, but that was the feeling in Ajdabiyah at the time: anyone who could, should rush to the frontline.

The rebels just prayed that their audacity and enthusiasm would translate into military victories. And for a while they did. Rebels made significant gains early March, capturing the towns of Brega, Ras Lanuf and Ben Jawad. But pro-Gaddafi forces mounted a counter-offensive and swiftly repelled the insurgency in those towns.

The inside story posted on this page brings together reporting from three separate France 24 teams in Libya - in the capital Tripoli and on the east coast - to give you a comprehensive picture of what is happening on the ground.

Watch the short version of our special report

 

By Cyril VANIER

COMMENT(S)

Archives

2014-12-26 Syria

France 24’s best documentaries of 2014

This year, France 24 brought you major reports from around the world. Don't miss our highlights from 2014: from the partition of Ukraine to the battle against Ebola in Liberia,...

Read more

2014-12-19 Argentina

Argentina: The Kirchner era

The woman dubbed by some the new Eva Perón is a divisive figure. Cristina Kirchner succeeded her husband, Nestor, as president of Argentina back in 2007. A year ahead of...

Read more

2014-02-14 Cameroon

Central African Republic and the 'convoy of hope'

Despite the presence of French troops and an African Union-led peacekeeping force, the situation in the Central African Republic remains extremely volatile. Clashes between the...

Read more

2014-12-12 China

China: An 'Africatown' in Guangzhou

With twelve million inhabitants, Guangzhou, in southern China, is the third largest city after Shanghai and Beijing. Like the rest of globalised China, it attracts people from...

Read more

2014-12-05 France

Do French Jews have reason to fear?

"For the first time in 70 years, France has become a country of Jewish emigration". This is how the Chairman of France’s Central Consistory, Joël Mergui, gloomily sums up the...

Read more