Despite the city of Sirte being under siege and nato bombardment for weeks, ‘Rebels’ once again suffer defeat

Sirte – More than 10 fighters of Libya’s new rulers were killed on Tuesday in fierce street fighting with forces of Muammar Gaddafi in his hometown of Sirte, a commander told AFP.

“More than 10 of our fighters have been killed today in face-to-face fighting near Mahari hotel” in eastern Sirte, said the commander who asked not to be named as the information was sensitive.

The fighters of the National Transitional Council (NTC), Libya’s new ruling body, had taken control of the hotel on Monday.

The NTC fighters and Gaddafi’s diehards clashed “in street fights and shot at each other from close range with Kalashnikovs and rocket-propelled-grenades” on Tuesday, the commander said.

“There was heavy fighting after which at around 7.30pm Nato carried out several strikes” on Gaddafi’s forces, he said.

The commander whose troops are deployed at the frontline said that NTC casualties were high “because a lot of our fighters went on foot and several of them did not know the city well and faced heavy fire from Gaddafi’s forces”.

“It was a bad day but inshallah this Friday we will hold prayers inside Sirte. We will also use heavy force now,” he added.

He also said that clashes were reported Tuesday around Sirte port which the fighters had captured overnight.

The battle for Sirte has intensified in the past few days with NTC forces encircling Gaddafi’s bastion from the west, the east and the south.

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