Libyan rebels disappointed by lack of leadership slip away from Bani Walid front

By Associated Press, Updated: Saturday, September 24, 4:59 PM

WADI DINAR, Libya — Many revolutionary fighters are abandoning one of the main fronts in the battle to rout Moammar Gadhafi’s loyalists, saying they’re not afraid of dying in the face of heavy resistance but are tired of the disorganization and lack of ammunition among their own ranks.

Bani Walid has proven impenetrable in part because of its daunting natural defenses — the town of 100,000 is strung along mountain ravines where loyalists hold the high ground. But the nearly month-old assault has only underscored the disarray in the forces of Libya’s new rulers, which include both a relatively organized military and brigades of untrained volunteers.

The regular forces have already pulled back from the Bani Walid siege to focusing on Gadhafi’s hometown of Sirte, further east on the Mediterranean coast, and other strongholds further south.

Weeks after Tripoli fell and Gadhafi went into hiding, revolutionary forces have struggled with his loyalists’ strongholds in Bani Walid and Sirte. Further south deep in the desert lies another bastion, Sabha, and several desert towns in between remain in the hands of the ousted regime — an obstacle as the country’s new ruler, the National Transitional Council, tries to solidify its control.

In recent days, even the volunteer fighters who had remained at Bani Walid, determined to continue, have begun to filter away in frustration.

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