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NTC launches sweeping attacks on Sirte, control may be in hours


08:38, October 08, 2011

TRIPOLI, Oct. 7 (Xinhua) -- Fighters of Libya's ruling National Transitional Council (NTC) launched on Friday morning sweeping attacks on Sirte, one of the remaining heavily-armed towns in the hand of fallen leader Muammar Gaddafi, a source told Xinhua.

The attacks, launched from the east and west, are aimed at seizing the center of the Gaddafi hometown, about 450 km east of Tripoli, the source told Xinhua on condition of anonymity.

The fighters are expected to control the center of Sirte in the next few hours, the source said, adding that the majority of the battles are underway around a conference building in the downtown.

What hinder progress are still the civilians and the spread of pro-Gaddafi snipers on the building roofs across the town, who shot everyone that moves in the city indiscriminately, said the source, who pointed out that the prolonged battles in Sirte had been like "a war of streets," as contention had been going on street by street.

Meanwhile, Gaddafi's remnants are protecting themselves in houses and are still using human shields, the source said.

Plumes of smoke are seen while heavy explosions are heard from inside Sirte on Friday, as the weeks-long seesaw battles there have put the town in dire need of drinking water, food, electricity and fuel.

NTC military spokesman Ahmed Bani said Wednesday that NTC fighters had surrounded Sirte, and full capture could be realized in the upcoming days.


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