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NTC still faces strong military resistance despite int'l recognition

09-21-2011 16:36 BJT Special Report:Libyan Rebels Control Tripoli |

TRIPOLI, Sept. 21 (Xinhua) -- Libya's National Transitional Council (NTC) forces have advanced to the southern desert city of Sabha Tuesday, while in other remaining bastions of the fallen leader Muammar Gaddafi, NTC fighters still face fierce resistance from pro-Gaddafi forces.

Fighters loyal to Libya's transitional leaders, are seen in a machine gun-mounted pickup
truck about 3 km (2 miles) from the centre of Muammar Gaddafi's hometown Sirte as they
prepare for an assault on the city September 20, 2011. In the latest reverse in weeks of
chaotic fighting over Sirte, Gaddafi's birthplace and one of the last remaining bastions of
his support, five anti-Gaddafi fighters were killed on Tuesday after they came under
artillery fire. (Xinhua/Reuters)

The NTC claimed to have taken control of the city's airport, fort and other locations, and seized a senior pro-Gaddafi general near the town, according to Tunisia's official TAP news agency.

Meanwhile, there were clashes Tuesday in central Tripoli. Four pro-Gaddafi members were arrested by the NTC after an exchange of fire, some witnesses said. The arrested may be the sons of a senior military official of the Gaddafi regime.

The clash started when Gaddafi loyalists fired rocket-propelled grenades toward the NTC fighters, which immediately prompted NTC fighters to fire back, a Xinhua eyewitness said. The clashes lasted for about half an hour.

In the western town of Sirte, NTC fighters had to reduce their military operations as the Gaddafi loyalists used civilians as human shields, a senior NTC officer said Tuesday.

He said the NTC was providing shelter to the civilians fleeing Sirte, which had decelerated their offensives.

The NTC was planning new tactics on Sirte, the officer said, adding that the fighters were in high spirits, having captured one of Gaddafi's armories near Sirte.

On the prolonged clashes in Bani Walid, NTC fighters admitted to having met with geographical difficulties. "Bani Walid is between mountains," NTC spokesman Ahmed Bani said, adding that the Gaddafi forces there still possessed snipers and long-range missiles, which had kept the NTC from approaching the town.

But what was certain was that the town had been "100 percent surrounded" by NTC fighters, Bani said.

The NTC promised it would not give up Bani Walid, and "would like to send the message to the people there that we (the NTC fighters) are coming," Bani said.

Bani was unable to confirm whether or not Gaddafi was in Bani Walid, but the fallen leader reminded the NTC of his presence Tuesday in an audio message through Syrian-based al-Rai channel, Al-Arabiya TV reported.

In the message, Gaddafi said NATO's planes would not be able to continue operations in Libya, and the country's system of rule was based on the people's will and could not be removed.

Just hours after Gaddafi's audio message, U.S. President Barack Obama vowed that the NATO mission would continue as long as the Libyan people are being threatened.

Addressing a high-level meeting on Libya at the United Nations, also known as the "Friends of Libya" meeting, Obama called on Gaddafi's loyalists to lay down their arms.

"I said at the beginning that we cannot and should not intervene every time there's an injustice in the world," he said. "Yet it's also true that at times the world could have and should have summoned the will to prevent the killing of innocents on a horrific scale."

The high-level international meeting on Libya hosted by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon marks the start of the process of reconstruction and nation-building in Libya.

Calling it "a historical day" for Libya, the UN chief pledged UN support for the North African nation "in every way we can" in helping it face the "large challenges" ahead.

On the same day, the NTC was recognized by the African Union (AU) and South Africa as the legitimate authority of Libya, according to the chairperson of the AU and South Africa's International Relations and Cooperation Department.

Before Tuesday's announcement, South Africa and the AU refused to recognize the NTC as the new legitimate authority in Tripoli. The AU had been clinging to its roadmap for the resolution of the conflict in Libya, which called for a consensual and inclusive government.

Editor:Wang Xiaomei |Source: Xinhua

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