Libya: Gaddafi Loyalists Trapped in Tripolis

With key towns around Tripoli in the hand of the rebels, the forces still loyal to Muammar Gaddafi are running out of room to maneuver.

After the forces of the National Transitional Council have captured the city of Az Zawiyah, only 50 Kilometers west of Tripoli, the troops loyal to Gaddafi are essentially restricted in their operations to the area around the capital. What’s more, by taking Az Zawiyah, the rebels have effectively cut off the Gaddafi troops from their main supply line which went along the coast to the Tunisian border, only 175 km to the west.

The website Strategy Page reports growing shortages in food, energy and consumer goods in Tripoli, especially compared to the rebel capital of Benghazi, were everything is more readily available and cheaper. An increasing amount of vehicles packed with civilians is leaving Tripoli in the direction of the Tunisian border.

Gaddafi loyalist forces are facing a number of problems that affect their morale. A growing number of war casualties is flooding into the city, ammunitions and weapons are getting short and the rebels confidently announced that they will capture Tripoli inside a month. As a result the number of  desertions is raising.

Zlitan, about 160 km to the east is also in rebel hands which cuts off a potential supply line to the east and on 15 August it was reported that Berber tribal warriors have conquered Gharyan, the largest city in the Nafusa Mountains south of the capital. This also blocks the Gaddafi forces from using the main road to the south.

Meanwhile some of Gaddafi’s associates seem to see the signs and distance themselves from the leader. Interior Minister Nassr al Mabrouk Abdullah has fled to Egypt yesterday, where he arrived on a tourist visa but is thought to seek political asylum.

On the other hand, the rebel’s government got a big boost yesterday, when it was announced that Turkey, under an agreement with the National Transitional Government, has sent an additional 14,000 tons of Diesel fuel to Benghazi after it had already delivered 10,000 tons earlier.

(Sources: Strategy Page, World Bulletin; 16 August 2011)


About Johann Brandstätter

Photojournalist and documentary photographer based in Bulgaria, working mainly in the Balkans and the Middle East. Conflicts & crises, social and environmental issues, defense & military, travel, transportation.
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