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Salesmen, students get fast-track rebel training

Every day, hundreds of volunteers looking to take up arms against Muammar Gaddafi turn up at a fast-track military camp in the Libyan rebel stronghold of Benghazi, ready to join the ragtag army. FRANCE 24 visited the rebel camp.

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Dressed in jeans and baseball caps, men from all walks of life turn up at a rebel-run military camp in Benghazi, ready to join the ragtag army and hoping to pick up enough combat skills to fight for their cause. Using Soviet-era weapons and Muammar Gaddafi’s rusty ammunition, the volunteers are put through express training and then packed off to the front line.

Some of the men have already had some military training, but others are starting from scratch. Muftah Sharkassit, a 25-year-old salesman, sits on the dusty ground, legs crossed, listening to his instructor intently. “There were lots of things I didn’t know,” he tells FRANCE 24. “But now, thank God, we’re ready to fight.”
 

Instructor Abdel Ali Attiehi used to serve in the Gaddafi military, but is now in charge of training the growing army against the Libyan leader. He’s proud of his fast-learning students. “Sometimes they spend less than a week training on this,” he says, patting a khaki-painted rocket launcher. “Normally it takes at least three months!”

 
One of his youngest pupils, a student named Mohamed Rajab, tells us that he is ready to go to the front line, which now lies on the outskirts of Ajdabiya, a city lying between Brega and Benghazi, in the west of the country. “As soon as they tell me to, I'll go, no problem,” he says, smiling enthusiastically.
 
It’s going to take a long time before these volunteers become a fighting force that is effective against the better-trained and -equipped Gaddafi army. But in due time they could become a defensive force that helps protect some of the worst-hit cities, like Benghazi.
 

 

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