Jihan Hafiz reports from Brega, Libya
JIHAN HAFIZ, REPORTER: Rebel forces against Muammar al-Gaddafi edged closer to the front lines from Brega to Ra’s Lanuf. On Friday, the rebels took control of the city for the first time since the beginning of the uprising more than two weeks ago. On Sunday, they fought Gaddafi’s forces in Ben Jawad in the battle to reach Gaddafi’s home town of Surt, a strategic location for rebel forces to secure the route to Tripoli.
UNIDENTIFIED (SUBTITLED TRANSLATION): In addition to missile air strikes in Ben Jawad, Ben Jawad is now empty from civilians, except for pro-Gaddafi fighters.
HAFIZ: Over 20 have been confirmed dead in the latest round of fighting in the east, according to the doctor on the health committee of the provisional national council. This militant took a bullet in his leg, but remained in high spirits as he laughs with doctors and medical personnel in this clinic. Upon asking, “Will he return to the front line to fight for Libya?” “God willing,” he responded.
UNIDENTIFIED (SUBTITLED TRANSLATION): They say we are the ones who are ill. Fine. So let’s see what we sick people can do.
HAFIZ: Many rebels are soldiers who deserted, but most appear to be civilians.
UNIDENTIFIED (SUBTITLED TRANSLATION): There are tanks and cannons. Look around you. They’re youth, polite and respectful. Everyone is married. Ask around. They would say, I have four kids, I have three. From Tripoli our wives are crying to us over the phone.
HAFIZ: The reports by the state media that Gaddafi took Ra’s Lanuf and other rebel-controlled areas in the west prove to be false. Fighting continued in Ben Jawad, as Gaddafi launched new airstrikes in Ra’s Lanuf on Monday. The Libyan revolution has now entered a new stage, as rebel forces advance beyond Ra’s Lanuf and enter new territory. The question is: do they have the force to make it to Tripoli? This is Jihan Hafiz for The Real News, in Brega, Libya.