Anti-Gaddafi forces have urged NATO to intensify its air war as they took heavy losses in a push on the ousted despot’s birthplace of Sirte and his other remaining bastion, Bani Walid.
In a radio message on Wednesday, Muammar Gaddafi hailed the resistance in Bani Walid, where the National Transitional Council (NTC) said 11 of its fighters were killed on Tuesday in a hail of rockets fired by forces loyal to the former strongman.
Among those killed in the barrage was senior commander Daou al-Salhine al-Jadak, whose car was struck by a rocket as he headed towards the front, NTC chief negotiator Abdullah Kenshil told AFP.
Jadak, one of the highest ranking NTC commanders in Bani Walid and who hailed from the town, told AFP two days before his death that he had been imprisoned for more than 18 years for helping organise a 1993 rebellion.
An AFP correspondent said that despite heavy use of tanks, rocket launchers and artillery, the NTC forces had not advanced from positions held for the past few days in the desert town 170 kilometres southeast of Tripoli.
“There is always incoming missile and artillery fire. We are returning fire with heavy weapons but we are not sending in infantry. We are waiting for reinforcements,” Captain Walid Khaimej told AFP.
“NATO is here but is not doing enough. They take out the rocket launchers firing at us, but they are immediately replaced. We need more help from NATO.”
Ahmed Hamza, a 22-year-old who had been studying in Scotland before returning to Libya to fight for the NTC, said “we need more firepower, more artillery, more tanks. The infantry cannot move in because whoever tries gets taken out.”
“What we really need is more strikes from NATO. NATO is only hitting once or twice or day. That’s not enough,” Hamza said.