Reed Lindsay: Libyan rebel success dependent on NATO mission
REED LINDSAY, TRNN: Tripoli has fallen, but the death count keeps mounting. Every Friday, the most recent casualties are mourned in front of Benghaziâ€
MOURNERS/PROTESTERS: We are not afraid to be martyred. We are not afraid to die victorious God willing. No more negotiations. We need to fight back.
LINDSAY: There is no more space at Benghaziâ€
RIYDAH HAWARI REBEL, (SUBTITLED TRANSLATION): Everyone wants peace, but we gave them a chance, we waited, we negotiated. Every time we extend our hand, they attack us and kill us. Gaddafi’s tribe is our people. We want them to surrender. No more blood. But look at the blood they have shed during a cease-fire. Look at how many martyrs have been killed. So put down our guns and talk more? It is time to go in [to Sirte].
LINDSAY: After liberating Tripoli, rebel forces halted their expected assaults on Sirte and the other remaining Gaddafi enclaves, Bani Walid and Sabha. But here on the front lines, the fighting never stopped. These Russian-made 130-millimeter guns are firing at Gaddafi positions 16 miles away.
MOHAMMED NAIIB, ECONOMICS STUDENT/ REBEL (SUBTITLED TRANSLATION): NATO spots the targets, gives us the coordinates and we fire at them with our weaponsâ€¦Gaddafi doesnâ€
LINDSAY, (60 MILES EAST OF SIRTE) â€“ LIBYA: Air Power has been a decisive factor in the battle for Libya. Six months ago, Gaddafiâ€
MUSTAPHA ABDEL JALIL, CHAIRMAN, NATIONAL TRANSITIONAL COUNCIL: I think I have mentioned we are currently in a position of strength that allows us to enter any city. But we are still careful to avoid bloodshed and loss of Libyan lives and to preserve the safety of our institutions. Especially as these areas are tribal areas and the situation in them can be characterized as sensitive.
LINDSAY: But negotiations with tribal leaders in Sirte and the surrounding desert did not go smoothly. About 60 miles east of Sirte, families have set up a temporary camp in an area under the control of the rebels away from the fighting in and near coastal towns. The rebels court tribal leaders for their support, providing them with water, food and medicine. An argument breaks out when the rebels accuse the tribal leaders of hiding weapons despite a promise to disarm. The mutual distrust is palpable.
MOHAMMED ABDEL WAZZARD, TRIBAL LEADER, (SUBTITLED TRANSLATION): We donâ€
LINDASY: The rebels complain that many tribal leaders remain loyal to Gaddafi even after their territory has fallen into rebel hands. Negotiations with leaders in Sirte, where Gaddafiâ€
IBRAHIM MOUSSA MOHAMMED REBEL COMMANDER (SUBTITLED TRANSLATION): The problem is there are some people who committed crimes like killing their own people. They have become criminals. They have killed and raped, so theyâ€
LINDSAY: Eighty miles behind the front lines, the rebels guarding the entrance to the oil town of Ras Lanuf are on heightened alert. A day before, Gaddafi forces launched a surprise attack from the desert. 16 rebels were killed, including five who were found with their hands tied together. Only one, shot in the stomach and left for dead, survived. The Gaddafi loyalists fired missiles at the Ras Lanuf oil refinery before slipping back into the desert. The attack was a grim reminder of the continued threat posed by Gaddafi even as he and his sons are on the run.
SAMIR ABDEL RAHMAN ALI, OIL WORKER/ REBEL: In my personal opinion, nothing surprises me anymore because Gaddafi will say anything, do anything to discredit us.
LINDSAY: A report released this week by Amnesty International documents widespread human rights abuses committed by Gaddafi forces, including extrajudicial executions, torture, disappearances and attacks on civilians that amount to war crimes.The report also documents similar abuses committed by the rebels, although on a much smaller scale, with dark-skinned Libyans and immigrants from Sub-Saharan Africa being targeted in many cases. Many immigrants have fled the country…others are being held in detention centers without having been formally charged.Back on the front lines, morale is high and most of the rebels seem to be brimming with confidence. These rebels are taking a break at an abandoned hotel after returning from the Eid holidayâ€¦their first visit to see their families in three months.
AHMED COMPUTER TECHNICIAN/REBEL (SUBTITLED TRANSLATION): We are the new government. We have the money, we have the United Nations supporting us. We have the oil. All the oil in Libya now is in the revolutionâ€
LINDSAY: At the front lines, rebels gather to eat, wash and pray as missiles launched by their comrades sail overhead. They seem unconcerned by the proximity of Gaddafi forces â€¦ only six miles away.
REBEL: We are here because Gaddafi forces remain. So weâ€
LINDSAY: Grad missiles launched by Gaddafiâ€
End of Transcript
DISCLAIMER: Please note that transcripts for The Real News Network are typed from a recording of the program. TRNN cannot guarantee their complete accuracy.