Libya’s NTC Fighters Beaten Back by Gadahfi Loyalists

Posted September 19th, 2011 at 8:40 am (UTC-5)
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Libya's provisional authority fighters are facing continued resistance in Moammar Gadhafi's remaining strongholds, a day after National Transitional Council leaders delayed announcing a new government.

Pro-Gadhafi forces used heavy gunfire to repel NTC fighters Monday near the northern gate of the heavily fortified town of Bani Walid.

The Gadhafi loyalists have beaten back repeated assaults as NTC fighters try to regroup outside the town for a new attack.

Libya's volunteer provisional authority fighters fled in chaos Sunday from the desert town of Bani Walid when pro-Gadhafi troops attacked their positions with mortars and sniper fire.

Regular, trained provisional authority troops had pulled away from Bani Walid after failing to take the town in earlier fighting.

In Mr. Gadhafi's hometown of Sirte Sunday, revolutionary forces also encountered fierce resistance. Most NTC fighters besieging that city are part of experienced, battle-hardened brigades from Misrata.

The NTC had planned to reveal new Cabinet positions on Sunday, but interim Prime Minister Mahmoud Jibril told reporters last-minute negotiations had delayed the announcement “indefinitely.”

The former rebels' executive committee was dissolved last month. Talks about new appointments broke down when Mr. Jibril's proposals did not receive full backing.

NTC officials also disagreed about whether it is necessary to form a transitional government before declaring Libya fully “liberated” from pro-Gadhafi forces. Provisional authority plans for a new constitution and elections could unfold once that declaration is made.

The deposed leader's spokesman, Moussa Ibrahim, said pro-Gadhafi fighters have won several battles lately and have the ability to continue “for months.”

Ibrahim also said loyalist forces have captured what he called a number of French, British and Qatari “mercenaries.” He said the group will be shown on television at a later time, but he did not give more details. It was not possible to immediately verify Ibrahim's claims.