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Africa

From the front line: Libya's rebel army gains confidence

©

Video by Noreddine BEZZIOU , Cyril VANIER

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2011-04-28

With bulletproof vests, air cover from NATO, and a new name and logo, Libya’s rebel army is gaining confidence. Our special correspondents on the front line explain how the ragtag rebel army is turning professional.

In the western Libyan town of Ajdabiyah, the dusty streets are still empty more than two weeks after the locals fled. Just an hour away, Gaddafi’s forces lie in wait. This is the frontline between the rebels and the regime army.

The rebels are preparing to push west, toward the oil city of Brega. They have a bold new name – the Free Libyan Forces – and a new logo.
 
“I'm a soldier,” shouts one of the insurgents, holding up his red arm band defiantly. “I'm part of the army!”
 
While their weapons haven’t changed, these fighters are now equipped with bulletproof vests and are laying down strict military orders. “Journalists aren't allowed beyond that point over there,” one of the soldiers tells our reporters on the road toward Brega. “That’s what it says on the sign.” Civilians are stopped, too.
 
Just a few weeks ago, a large part of the same army resembled a sloppy volunteer group. “The rebel army was really disorganised,” says Allah, one of the soldiers with previous military training. "Everyone did what they liked. But now there is a structure and they work with the national security council.”
 
The rebels say that coordination with NATO has improved in the past few weeks. On the frontline, the mission is to locate the enemy. “We try to locate tanks and pass the information on to NATO,” explains the chief of operations, Hamid el Hassi. “Then NATO decides whether to carry out an airstrike or to set up an ambush."
 
The rebels say that with a combination of better organisation on the ground and continuing air cover by NATO, they will be able to advance toward Brega in the coming days.
 

 

Date created : 2011-04-27

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