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Africa

Defiant rebels fend off Gaddafi forces in Misrata

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2011-04-18

FRANCE 24 exclusive footage depicts the grim reality of urban fighting in the besieged city of Misrata, where a relentless assault by forces loyal to Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi has taken a heavy toll on rebel fighters.

Libyan rebels in besieged Misrata braved heavy shell- and gunfire on Sunday, only to capture a single crossroad at the cost of ten lives.

FRANCE 24’s exclusive footage shows how the situation in Libya’s third largest city has spiralled into chaos. Insurgents and government troops have engaged in painstaking close quarters battles, failing so far to break the stalemate.

Rebels are left to their own devices as they face the better armed government troops. A rebel commander interviewed by our correspondents in the midst of Sunday’s battle slammed NATO for failing to break President Muammar Gaddafi’s siege after one month of air strikes.

“It’s been one month but NATO didn’t do anything”, said the rebel commander.

Volatile humanitarian situation

Since their arrival in Misrata on April 12, our special correspondents Matthieu Mabin and Alexandra Renard have been following rebels armed with rifles fighting doggedly to prevent Gaddafi loyalists from closing in on the city’s centre.

The city of 400,000 residents faces an increasingly volatile humanitarian situation after pro-Gaddafi forces have reportedly used cluster munitions. Hospital administrator Abu Falgha has confirmed that his staff treated several injuries caused by cluster bombs last week. Speaking to an AFP reporter, he showed examples of brightly-coloured bomblets kept in his office as evidence.

The use of cluster bombs by pro-Gaddafi forces marks a significant escalation in the seven-week conflict. According to international law, in populated areas it may amount to a war crime.

Abu Falgua also said that 1,000 people had been killed and 3,000 wounded since Gaddafi unleashed his forces on Misrata. About 80 percent of the victims were civilians.

 

Date created : 2011-04-18

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