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The siege on Sirte, Libya

29 Sep

Scott Taylor of the Chronicle-Herald wrote on 15 Aug. ’11:

On a fact-finding trip into Tripoli last week, I saw first-hand that Gadhafi has solidified his control over the capital and most of western Libya. Foreign diplomats still based in Tripoli confirmed to me that, since NATO started bombing, Gadhafi support and approval ratings have actually soared to about 85 per cent.

Of the 2,335 tribes in Libya, over 2,000 are still pledging their allegiance to the embattled president. At present, it is the gasoline shortage due to the embargo and lack of electricity from NATO’s bombing that are causing the most hardship to Libyans inside Gadhafi-controlled sectors.

However, at present, the people still blame NATO — not Gadhafi — for the shortages. In an effort to combat that sentiment and to encourage a popular uprising against Gadhafi, NATO planes have taken to dropping leaflets in canisters over the streets of Tripoli.

Unfortunately for the NATO planning staff, the canisters are heavy enough to cause injury and damage roofs when they plummet to the ground.

As for the messages on the leaflets, the Libyans are quite amused at the clumsy translations. On one such note, the intended slogan is meant to urge civilians to go forward and “embrace” the rebels. Instead, it translates to encourage Libyans to go out and “copulate” with the rebels.

Another NATO missive was intended to advise those living within Gadhafi’s sector to pack up and move to a rebel-occupied territory. This somehow became garbled into a request for citizens to relocate to a “possessed” (as in, by the devil) area of Libya.

17 June ’11; one million Libyans in Tripoli demonstrate in favor of Ghaddafi and against NATO.  One of many such protests.  (Libya has a population of 6 million.) Video.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SV6QGmqMAeE&feature=player_embedded#!

Press TV talks with Lizzie Phelan, journalist and political activist in London who has been to Libya and says that Western media is complicit in war crimes in the North African country through omission of fact and that the vast majority of the population are in support of the Libyan government. Following is a transcript of the interview.

http://tinyurl.com/3m5osf6

Update on the siege on Sirte.  The “rebels” are intent on killing every civilian who supports or ever has supported Ghaddafi.  Apparently, so is NATO.

 

Refugees from the Libyan coastal city of Sirte report that thousands have died as a result of relentless NATO bombardment and shelling by the the Western-backed “rebels.”

The two-week-old NATO siege of Sirte has left the city without adequate food, drinkable water, medicine and other basic necessities of life, creating hellish condition for its population of 100,000…

In their frustration, the anti-Gaddafi militias have pounded the coastal city with artillery and mortar rounds, tank shells and Grad rockets, wreaking horrific destruction.

Thousands of refugees have tried to flee the city, forced to pass through checkpoints set up by the NATO-backed forces, where many have been taken prisoner, accused of being Gaddafi supporters.

The Wall Street Journal reported from one of these checkpoints, describing lines of cars and trucks, packed with civilians and piled with mattresses and other belongings:

“As refugees gathered, the Misrata fighters checked their names against lists of suspected Gaddafi loyalists. Some men were arrested while others were told to wait on the side of the road with their families…

Reports from inside the city indicate a deepening humanitarian catastrophe. The aid group Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF—Doctors Without Borders) reported Wednesday that it had been in touch with doctors at the main hospital in Sirte, who were facing an increasingly impossible situation.

“If the situation continues for a few more days or weeks, it will be catastrophic. Already the doctors in the hospital can’t do their work properly, and if it persists, the situation will become dramatic,” Dr. Mego Terzian, head of emergency programs for MSF-France, told the Reuters news agency.

“They said the hospital was overwhelmed with wounded,” said Terzian. “There are other kinds of emergencies—pediatric, gynecological and patients with chronic diseases who are not receiving treatment.

“They told us of huge difficulties, a lack of electricity, water and basic medicines to run the emergency room, including anesthetics, antibiotics, analgesics, and blood bags,” he told Reuters.

The MSF representative said that the doctors in Sirte had contacted the group asking for emergency medical supplies, but that the National Transitional Council had “forbidden” MSF volunteers from crossing through its siege lines to aid the population.

Terzian said that the group was investigating whether it could bring in supplies by sea, but that it was not optimistic. NATO warships are maintaining a blockade of Libya’s Mediterranean coast, which is an integral part of the barbaric siege of Sirte…

Another doctor,… Eman Mohammed, reported that the hospital had no oxygen in the operating rooms and few staff members to treat patients.

Lack of food, water, electricity and other basic necessities is also taking its toll on the general population, particularly the city’s children. Reporting from a clinic in the town of Harawa, just a few miles outside of Sirte, AFP said that large numbers of families were bringing in young children suffering from severe diarrhea and vomiting.

“Most patients coming to me are children,” Valentina Rybakova, a Ukrainian doctor who has worked in Libya for eight years, told AFP. “I saw 120 patients since morning and 70 percent of them were children. This is a big humanitarian crisis. We are trying to get help from everybody, but the main problem is that these people have no access to clean drinking water.” She said that her clinic, too, was suffering from a shortage of medicines, as well as critical lack of nursing staff.

“The situation in the city is very critical,” Muftah Mohammed, a fish trader who was leaving Sirte, told AFP. “Children are in a particularly bad condition. There is no milk for them. We have all been surviving on just macaroni for several days.”

“There is no food, there is no medicine, and every night, for five or six hours, NATO bombs all sorts of buildings,” Sami Abderraman, 64, told the Spanish daily El Pais as he sought to leave Sirte. “Hundreds of women and children have died like animals.” Abderraman estimated that as many as 3,000 people have been killed in the siege…

Riab Safran, 28, spoke to the Times of London as his car was being searched at a rebel roadblock outside of Sirte. “It was worse than awful,” he said. “They hit all kinds of buildings—schools, hospitals.” ..

Ali Omar, who fled the city with 27 members of his extended family, recounted the carnage being carried out by the NATO-backed rebels advancing on Sirte from Benghazi in the east.

A number of the refugees have told reporters that those remaining in the city feared violence at the hands of the “rebels” after reports of many of those fleeing being detained and of women being abducted from cars leaving the city.

Among the most fearful are refugees who fled Tawergha, a town about 25 miles south of Misrata whose population is composed predominantly of black Libyans. Anti-Gaddafi militias charged that the residents of Tawergha had participated in the siege of Misrata by government troops and have retaliated with wholesale ethnic cleansing. Houses and stores in the town have been burned and daubed with racist graffiti. The new authorities in Misrata have announced plans to bulldoze the entire town so that none of Tawergha’s residents can ever return.

It is estimated that as many as 5,000 refugees from Tawergha sought safety in Sirte and now fear that they will be slaughtered by the militia forces attacking the city from Misrata to the west. Tawergha refugees who have managed to flee the fighting for Tripoli have found no refuge there either. Misrata militias manning checkpoints in the capital have detained them and thrown them into prison camps, accusing them of being “mercenaries.”…

Since launching the war on Libya last March, NATO has conducted 24,140 sorties, including 9,010 strike sorties, leaving much of the country in ruins and thousands killed and wounded…British, French, US and Qatari special operations troops, intelligence operatives and mercenary military contractors have organized, trained and armed the “rebel” armies, whose every advance has been made possible by NATO bombardments…

http://tinyurl.com/3bmgwzy

Endnote: By early Sept., the White House had put the cost of the Libyan war at 1.1 billion.

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Posted by on September 29, 2011 in Libya

 

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