The Wanton Destruction Of Sirte
Extraordinary Pictures Show Libyan City Shelled to Smithereens
October 14, 2011 "Daily Mail" - -Buildings are crumbling, heavily armed fighters stand on every street corner and snipers lurk on rooftops - welcome to Sirte.
The home city of Libya's fugitive leader Muammar Gaddafi is one of the last area's not to have succumbed to the militia army of the National Transitional Council.
These astonishing photographs show how the rebel fighters, as the NTC was previously dubbed, are slowly tightening their strangle-hold around the city - with pro-Gaddafi fighters now only occupying a tiny section.
Waterlogged: Libyan rebel fighters fire at pro-Gaddafi forces as the battle for Sirte enters its final stages
Candid: These photographs show the rebel fighters taking some time out from battle, some carrying a guitar while others ride their bicycles
Deserted: The denuded buildings of Sirte will have to be demolished after they were pounded with heavy artillery for weeks
The council today brought more tanks into the city to try to smash the last pocket of resistance in a bid to end the chaos which has now lasted several weeks.
It sees the capture of the city as key to building a democractic government - as it says the process cannot begin until Sirte has fallen. NTC commanders said Gaddafi's die-hard loyalists now only control a residential area which measures around one mile squared.
They also said that the biggest obstacle to taking the town had been Gaddafi's snipers hiding in the buildings. To counter this they were using tanks to hit the buildings from close range, which often dislodged them. Gaddafi himself is believed to be hiding somewhere in the vast Libyan desert.
A senior NTC official also denied reports by other officials in the new government that Gaddafi's son Motassim had been captured in Sirte.
Surrounded now on all sides, Gaddafi's remaining forces in his home city seem to have no hope of winning the battle but are still fighting on, inflicting dozens of casualties with rocket-propelled grenades, mortars and small arms.
Shattered skyline: Smoke billows over Sirte as the rebels assault continued to pound the centre of the city
Battle of Sirte: Buildings lie in ruins (left) as war rages on in the flooded streets (right)
Taking cover: Anti-Gaddafi fighters crouch low behind one of their vehicles as heavy gunfire rains over their heads during the battle
One field hospital received two NTC dead and 23 wounded yesterday. One of the dead men had been hit while taking food up to the fighters on the front line, doctors said.
Another NTC commander said Gaddafi's besieged forces were no longer using heavier weapons and appeared to have lost their cohesion as a fighting force.
'We've noticed now they are fighting every man for himself,' said Baloun Al Sharie, a field commander. 'We tried to tell them it's enough and to give themselves up, but they would not.'
NTC officers said Gaddafi loyalists feared reprisals if they give themselves up.
Time out: Rebel fighters make the most of some down time by having a little nap
Action men: Battle is still raging in Gaddafi's home city of Sirte, with rebels taking to the streets with powerful weapons
Attack: A tank of Libyan rebels fire at pro-Gaddafi fighters during the battle of Sirte
Some captured fighters said they have been roughed up by NTC forces.
Amnesty International issued a report on Wednesday saying Libya's new rulers were in danger of repeating human rights abuses commonplace during Gaddafi's rule.
The NTC said it would look into the report.
Close to the centre of the fighting in Sirte, government forces found 25 corpses wrapped in plastic sheets. They accused Gaddafi militias of carrying out execution-style killings.
War: Libyan rebels fire rockets at pro-Gaddafi fighters in the fugitive leader's home city of Sirte
Is victory close? Rebel fighters flash the 'Victory' sign at photographers during the Battle of Sirte
Combat: A Libyan rebel carries the body of a dead comrade as the war between pro- and anti-Gaddafi forces rumbles on
As the battle for Libya draws towards what the NTC and NATO hope will be a close, both the new government and the Western alliance which helped topple Gaddafi are looking towards a return to normality.
The provisional Libyan government and NATO signed an agreement yesterday to immediately open air corridors for international civilian flights from Benghazi, and domestic flights between the second city and Tripoli and Misrata.
This is one of the first step toward NATO lifting its no-fly zone over Libya imposed after Gaddafi began a military assault on civilians protesting his one-man rule.
Confident: Rebel fighters flash the 'Victory' sign amidst the battle
Taking cover: A Libyan rebel runs to protect himself from incoming sniper fire during the Battle of Sirte