Libya: Preparing for the Fight for Sirte (Video)

This post is part of our special coverage Libya Uprising 2011.

Press reports claim that rebels are moving towards the city of Sirte, which is the only major city in the far the western side of Libya that remains in government control.

However, Sirte is also the hometown of Colonel Muammar Al Gaddafi — and more than a few people claim the city is heavily defended and will special have symbolic significance if it falls to anti-regime forces. Over the years, Gaddafi has tried to transfer much of the country's government to the town of 170,000 inhabitants which lies roughly halfway between Tripoli and Benghazi on the Gulf of Sidra.

The rebels said that after taking Sirte they would continue driving towards Tripoli, which lies 450 km to the east. This map, from Iyad El-Baghdadi shows the situation as of 6 pm, Saturday, March 5.

Here is a video posted on March 2 that claims to be taken in Sirte where Gaddafi loyalists allegedly fire on civilians.

Let's begin our coverage with the pranksters at NotLibyaStateTV:

@LibyanStateTV: We're reporting that Sirte is completely stable and will remain so. They assure us that all is well and ask us to stop calling them #libya

We now have Tweeps speculating on the possibility of fighting in Sirte:

@evanchill Though I didnt see any fighting, rebels keep gaining ground and are going to approach Sirte soon. Gaddafi retreat or tactical withdrawal?

URGENT: Supply of mercenaries and #Gaddafi militia headed to Sirte to help out Gaddafi militia there. #libya #feb17

@ShababLibya: Freedom fighters moving towards Sirte, which is said to be well defended as all have been given weapons #Libya #Feb17

@LibyaInMe: Reports that 20 000 revolutionaries from Eastern Libya are a few km away from Sirte. Pray 4 them #Libya #feb17

@libyafidammi: Alarabiya-Thousands head from Bani Walid towards Sirte. Watch out #Gaddafi looks like they're heading to your hometown. #Libya

@4Adam: @AJArabic Security Battalions[51] left #BeniWalid[180km SE #Tripoli] to protect Sirte from AntiQadhafi forces[eyewitness conformed]

@karikariguaraya: Monse Talleyrand LIBYA: liberating force is headed Sirte, while in the city are recorded uprisings against Gadhafi and tribal disputes.

@2011Patriot1775 Yea, #Sirte is key. Sirte up till now is blocking the road from #Benghazi to #Tripoli.Plus,Sirte is #Gaddafi main support.

This group of tweets covers the military and psychological importance of Sirte:

@FromJoanne: #SIRTE BASIN has a large part of Libya's OIL reserves + a large Military Airbase close 2 Sirte ith 50 re-enforced concrete hangars #Febr17

@FreedomNow2011: MUST TAKE SIRTE!! #Sirte is Key. If you take Sirte from #Gaddafi then the road from #Benghazi to #Tripoli is in Free People hands. #Libya

@ShababLibya: We are confident there will be an uprising in Sirte to join the Free Libyans Inshala (by the will of God), there are good and bad in every city #Libya #Feb17

@freelibyanyouth: @ShababLibya there are lots of non-gadaffi sertawi people. But they have benefited a lot from him either way.

@ShababLibya: We must remember, every citizen in Sirte is not pro gaddafi by default, only time can show us how this will unfold, we pray for them #Libya

@Tripolitanian: Now its time for #Sirte to decide, are they with #Libya or against it?

@flightae: Opposition forces should use loud speakers to announce to the people of #Sirt to join! Please get this message to them. #Libya RT IMPORTANT

@freedom4libya: People of Sirte, Gadhafi is finished. Please join the revolution now. #Libya will never forget this. You can finish him today. @ShababLibya

@4everLibya: Its important Sirte is invited to join the revolution peacefully.At the v least they should promise to remain neutral. #libya

@Tripolitanian: I trust the people of #Sirte, they know that they are #Libyans, not #Gaddafi loyalists. #Libya

A comment from “Palestine” to the Libya 17 February 2011 website:

I think it would be very helpful if your guys in Benghazi and other liberated cities start a campaign of calling families in Sirt and other cities that are still under Gaddafi’s control, the message should be simple and clear; mostly encouraging them to join the revolution and assuring them Libya is united and there will never be any cases of revenge against residence of these cities or against relatives of Gaddafi’s supporters. Just a suggestion.

And finally, a look to the future:

@sumyasalem: Today we take #Sirte and tomorrow #Tripoli #feb17 #Libya #gaddaficrimes

This post is part of our special coverage Libya Uprising 2011.


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