Text size:

  • Small
  • Normal
  • Large
NTC fighters hang from the barrel of a tank in Wadi Dinar yesterday after NTC leadership claimed to have repelled pro-Qaddafi forces in the oasis city of Sabah.
NTC fighters hang from the barrel of a tank in Wadi Dinar yesterday after NTC leadership claimed to have repelled pro-Qaddafi forces in the oasis city of Sabah.

Libya's new rulers claim control of key desert city of Sabha

As Nato extends its mandate in Libya, revolutionaries secure another victory by forcing back Qaddafi loyalists in southern city.

BENGHAZI // Libya's new rulers yesterday declared victory in the battle for the southern city of Sabha, one of the last bastions of support for Colonel Muammar Qaddafi.

Officials of the interim ruling National Transitional Council (NTC) said there were only small pockets of resistance in Sabha, Libya's largest desert city and home to an important military base.

The United States prepared to raise the American flag over its embassy in Tripoli today, after Barack Obama, the US president, met Libya's new leader in New York and pledged support for Libya as it consolidated its freedom.

Abdelmajid Seif Ennasr, who represents the NTC in Sabha, said: "We are in complete control of the city of Sabha."

Everybody in the city, including those who were pro-Qaddafi, were now with the revolution", even though NTC fighters were encountering "resistance from some individuals here and there", he said.

Mohammed Wardugu, the Benghazi spokesman of the "Desert Shield Brigade" fighting in the region, said: "Sabha is totally under the control of the revolutionaries."

The battle for Sabha, a city of 100,000 people in an area dominated by Col Qaddafi's clan, first broke out on June 12 after two days of anti-regime protests in the sprawling oasis.

Nato, whose air strikes have been instrumental in beating back Col Qaddafi's forces, said yesterday it would extend its air campaign for another 90 days.

The organisation has agreed to continue its operation in Libya, the US ambassador to Nato, Ivo Daalder, wrote on Twitter.

The current 90-day mandate was due to expire on September 27, but Western leaders have made clear their intention to continue the mission.

At Bani Walid, a Qaddafi stronghold south-west of Sirte, doctors said two people were killed and another four wounded in fighting.

Previously, an NTC official Abdullah Kenshil reported the death of an NTC fighter in Bani Walid and said the new regime's forces were preparing for a "decisive" tank-backed battle for the town in the next 48 hours.

NTC authorities have admitted they lost three men at Sirte on Tuesday, taking the overall death toll since they moved on the city on September 15 to at least 45 NTC fighters.

Meanwhile, 16 patients, most in critical condition, were evacuated on a Qatari military plane to Malta as doctors said the region's hospitals were overwhelmed.

NTC forces have said Col Qaddafi enjoyed a broad base of support in Sirte. Despite the setbacks, the fugitive Col Qaddafi told his remaining loyalists in Libya that the new regime was only temporary, in his latest comments aired on Syrian-based Arrai television. As Libya's new rulers were feted in New York, the interim prime minister Mahmud Jibril said the country's first formal government since Col Qaddafi's removal would be announced in 7 to 10 days.

His statement came after a special summit at which Mr Obama met the NTC chief Mustafa Abdel Jalil and announced the US embassy would be reopening and the ambassador, Gene Cretz, returning for a flag-raising ceremony.

Back to the top

More articles


Editor's Picks

 Iranian President Hassan Rouhani greets supporters after his arrival in Zahedan, the regional capital of Sistan and Baluchestan province on Tuesday, April 15, 2014. During Mr Rouhani's two-day visit, he will tour several other cities and hold meetings with local scholars and entrepreneurs. Maryam Rahmanian for The National

On the road with Hassan Rouhani

Iran's president is touring some of Iran's most underdeveloped provinces. Foreign correspondent Yeganeh Salehi is traveling with him.

 The Doha-based Youssef Al Qaradawi speaks to the crowd as he leads Friday prayers in Tahrir Square in Cairo, Egypt in February, 2011. The outspoken pro-Muslim Brotherhood imam has been critical of the UAE’s policies toward Islamist groups, adding to friction between Qatar and other GCC states. Khalil Hamra / AP Photo

Brotherhood imam skips Doha sermon, but more needed for GCC to reconcile

That Youssef Al Qaradawi did not speak raises hopes that the spat involving Qatar and the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain might be slowly moving towards a resolution.

 Twitter photo of  Abdel Fattah El Sisi on the campaign trail on March 30. Photo courtesy-Twitter/@SisiCampaign

El Sisi rides a bicycle, kicks off social media storm

The photos and video created a huge buzz across social media networks, possibly a marker of a new era for Egypt.

 An Afghan election commission worker carries a ballot box at a vote counting centre in Jalalabad on April 6. A roadside bomb hit a truck carrying full ballot boxes in northern Afghanistan, killing three people a day after the country voted for a successor to President Hamid Karzai. Eight boxes of votes were destroyed in the blast, which came as the three leading candidates voiced concerns about possible fraud. Noorullah Shirzada / AFP Photo

Two pressing questions for Afghanistan’s future president

Once in office, the next Afghan president must move fast to address important questions that will decide the immediate future of the country.

 Friday is UN Mine Awareness Day and Omer Hassan, who does demining work in Iraqi Kurdistan, is doing all he can to teach people about the dangers posed by landmines. Louise Redvers for The National

A landmine nearly ended Omer’s life but he now works to end the threat of mines in Iraq

Omer Hassan does demining work in Iraqi Kurdistan and only has to show people his mangled leg to underscore the danger of mines. With the world marking UN Mine Awareness Day on Friday, his work is as important as ever as Iraq is one of the most mine-affected countries in the world.

 Supporters of Turkey's ruling AKP cheer as they follow the election's results in front of the party's headquarters in Ankara on March 30. Adem Altan/ AFP Photo

Erdogan critic fears retaliation if he returns to Turkey

Emre Uslu is a staunch critic of Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Now, with a mass crackdown on opposition expected, he is unsure when he can return home.

Events

To add your event to The National listings, click here

Get the most from The National