JIHAN HAFIZ (VOICE-OVER): News of the attack came to Ajdabiya early Wednesday morning. At this checkpoint, rebels prepare for a possible advance of Muammar al-Gaddafi's forces.UNIDENTIFIED (SUBTITLED TRANSLATION): There are special forces in Brega. Brega is about 80 kilometers away from Ajdabiya. There are forces from the battalion el Khameess and el Sahdy entering into Brega. In Ajdabiya, there was an air-strike on the people.HAFIZ: Hundreds of rebels left the city of Benghazi en route to Ajdabiya and Brega. They were accompanied by ambulances with volunteer doctors. These are the people Muammar al-Gaddafi is calling terrorists. These are civilians and former military officials and soldiers who have defected from Gaddafi's army. They're all heading to the front lines of this battle to defend this territory from what they say is the country's only terrorist, the man who has ruled this country for 42 years. Most of the fighters here are civilians. Among them are engineers and pharmacists, students and business people, workers and the unemployed.UNIDENTIFIED (SUBTITLED TRANSLATION): We are youth protesting peacefully for change. We need to educate the country on freedom and to liberate them. They came with their weapons, so we took it from them, and we started to shoot to protect ourselves. We are an unarmed public. We're not terrorist and didn't even have weapons accessible to us.HAFIZ: Benghazi rebels received a warm reception in Ajdabiya. Then they advanced toward Brega.~~~HAFIZ: We're here at the entrance of el-Brega. Most of the fighting ended this morning, but as the sun sets, many people here feel victorious. This town is back in the hands of the revolution. And as you can tell, many here are strapped to the teeth. Their weapons were obtained through the numerous military installations of Gaddafi. The soldiers and military officials who defected joined the civilians here to train them to protect the revolution from Gaddafi's forces.~~~HAFIZ: The fighters of Brega explained [that] armed men in around 100 vehicles entered the town in a surprise attack. They took control of Brega but were quickly surrounded by rebels, and they were trapped in the university. A plane from Gaddafi's air force dropped two bombs, allowing Gaddafi's forces to escape. Two weeks after the Libyan uprising began, the morale of the rebels is higher than ever.UNIDENTIFIED (SUBTITLED TRANSLATION): Our martyrs' blood will not wash away in vain.HAFIZ: By nightfall, the ambulances are still at Brega Hospital. The doctor in charge of the clinic said the battle left 11 civilians dead and 27 seriously injured, including a woman and two children.UNIDENTIFIED (SUBTITLED TRANSLATION): We don't want Gaddafi anymore. If he comes back, then more will die at his hands. Every time he strikes, more die. We don't have guns, tanks, airplanes, or bombs.HAFIZ: This young man said he escaped after Gaddafi soldiers captured him and held him hostage. He says most of them were African mercenaries, not Libyans, something confirmed by other witnesses.UNIDENTIFIED: One--every one from Gaddafi's people take a lot, 20 or 30 African people.HAFIZ: Bodies fill the morgue, among them a 12-year-old child.UNIDENTIFIED: He's a child! He's a child! He's beside his home. He's just washing. He's beside his home. Oh! You see?HAFIZ: Three of the dead are Gaddafi soldiers. Doctors confirmed they're African mercenaries. Despite the rebels' victory, Gaddafi renewed a tax on the small oil town Thursday morning. Jihan Hafiz for The Real News in Brega, Libya.
End of Transcript
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