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Libyan Rebels Press Toward Sirte in Hunt for Gadhafi, Sons

September 28, 2011 at 12:00 AM EST
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JUDY WOODRUFF: And to the battle for Libya.

Rebel forces pressed again for control of Sirte, a city of 100,000 people, on the main road between Tripoli and Benghazi, still held by Moammar Gadhafi’s loyalists. One of the deposed leader’s sons may be holed up there too.

We begin with a report from Neil Connery of Independent Television News.

NEIL CONNERY: On the western outskirts of Sirte, the battle for Colonel Gadhafi’s hometown grinds on, Libya’s revolutionary forces determined to silence those still willing to fight for Gadhafi and claim this prize as their own.

On the front line, with Sirte in their sights, we watched their latest efforts. While the noose is tightening around pro-Gadhafi fighters inside Sirte, the forces of Libya’s National Transitional Council are still hoping that they can take full control of Colonel Gadhafi’s hometown, but trapped in the middle are tens of thousands of civilians.

Those families who have risked all to flee Sirte speak of the terror endured by its people. Ibrahim (ph) tells me of his family’s suffering. His daughter Hadil’s (ph) face tells its own story.

“They are really afraid. We had to escape from the city,” he says.  

They may have left this behind them, but so many remain effectively held as prisoners in this last stand by Gadhafi loyalists. The forces we’re with say they have just heard their position is about to be targeted by Gadhafi’s men.

MAN: That’s what we hear, but actually we are not moving out of this place, even if they shoot at us or bomb at us by their rockets.

NEIL CONNERY: You will stay?

MAN: Of course. Of course we will, because we cannot leave our group in the front.

NEIL CONNERY: Sirte will fall, but it’s still not clear when.

While the final chapter in this war can only be written once Colonel Gadhafi’s fate is known, what happens here in the former leader’s hometown will resonate across the new Libya.