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Fighting Continues in Misrata as 3 Countries Send Advisers to Assist Rebels

April 20, 2011 at 5:50 PM EST
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JIM LEHRER: Now, the latest on the fighting in Libya.

There was more today in the city of Misrata. At least five more people were killed there. Government forces have besieged rebels for nearly two months in Misrata.

We begin with a report from Jonathan Miller of Independent Television News, who is in Tripoli.

JONATHAN MILLER: Misrata’s city center is the front line in a battle for survival, the front line in the war against the dictator Col. Moammar Gadhafi.

(GUNFIRE)

JONATHAN MILLER: The detritus of nearly two months of heavy fighting littering the city’s streets. It’s their last major stronghold in western Libya.

Many hundreds have been killed now, doctors say, the majority civilians. For Misrata’s 300,000 to 400,000 people, life getting harder by the day. There’s a lack of food, of medicine, safe water, no electricity.

Cluster munitions made in Spain have now been widely filmed and their use documented by international human rights groups. These are lethal weapon. Each sprays 21 small, high-explosive bomblets.

Today, the U.N. human rights commissioner, a former war-crimes judge, said their use against a civilian population could constitute a war crime. The Libyan government denies they have even got them in their arsenal.

As the Libyan rebel leader traveled to Paris to meet President Sarkozy, who promised to intensify airstrikes on Gadhafi’s army, we escaped our house arrest in a Tripoli hotel to meet a rebel fighter in the capital. We were taken to a safe house in the city. We cannot verify that this man is who he claims he is, but he took an enormous risk to meet us.

MAN (through translator): We have enough guns. We have cells in every area of the capital. We are in contact with rebels in the east, in Misrata and Zawiyah. When we attack checkpoints, we kill soldiers and take their weapons. Our aim is to kill Gadhafi. We will get rid of him.

JONATHAN MILLER: Responding to an appeal by Libya’s foreign minister to give peace a chance, the Tripoli insurgent said, no, no more chances. Gadhafi had 42 years. It’s too late now.

(GUNFIRE)

JONATHAN MILLER: As the battle rages in Misrata, news from Libya’s western mountains which hug the border with Tunisia that 6,000 villagers, mostly ethnic Berbers, have fled heavy shelling by Gadhafi’s forces. Moammar Gadhafi pledged to fight to the last bullet, and he seems far from running out of those.