Ahram Online in Libya: The Ben Jawwad battle

Monday 7 Mar 2011

With only light arms against aircraft fire and heavy weapons, rebels against the regime of Muammar Gaddafi continue to hold ground in Ben Jawwad, close to the strategic oil port of Ras Lanouf

Anti-Gaddafi rebels guard outside the refinery after their victory in fighting against troops loyal to Gaddafi in the oil town of Ras Lanuf, eastern Libya, Saturday, (AP).

Hundreds of rebels lined up from Benghazi, the second biggest city in Libya and dubbed "the revolutionary capital" of a nationwide uprising against the regime of Muammar Gaddafi.

Dozens of cars carried armed men ready to help in the fight between Libyan civilians on the one hand and the heavy weapons, aircraft and bombs of the regime on the other.

The new Benghazi radio station continues to urge young people to join the rebels forces in defending their hometowns and standing up to Gadaffi's militias and mercenaries.

Rebels continue to pour onto the main roads leading to Ras Lanouf and Ben Jawwad in cars, some carrying guns and others carrying flags.

Mohammed Lahouti, 37, unemployed, joined the rebels forces in Benghazi on 17 February and fights with his bare hands against F16 fighters and other heavy machines.

"But we have God on our side, God protects us and will help us defeat this dictator," said Lahouti, who insists that hundreds of fellow revolutionaries are on their way to Ras Lanouf and from there to Sirte — Gadaffi's hometown — and then Tripoli.

Bakr Salem is not as optimistic as Lahouti.

He believes that the Arab world has to move to save the Libyan people from "a bloodthirsty general who doesn't mind killing the entire population. I urge Amr Moussa as the Arab League representative, and the United Nations, to intervene and stop this killer," said Salem who was badly injured in yesterday's clashes in Ras Lanouf.

At this point, there was an air raid — the sound of the bombs very strong. Some rushed to the mosque for protection, others tried to use their small arms. Eventually the plane continued to Ben Jawwad.

Hundreds chanted "God is great" and fired shots in the air in a sign of determination. Here Ghazi Mohammed, 24 and a petrol engineer, screams "Treason is in Gaddafi's blood, he has no ethics, he kills his own people with F16 fighters!"

Mohammed insisted on showing Ahram Online the bombs that were dropped from the aircraft.

Near was a huge bomb that luckily didn't explode else it would have killed hundreds and destroyed one of the most important and strategic oil production fields in Libya.

"You know what, we don't care about petrol, let him destroy the petrol, we only want our freedom," said Ebrahim Mohammed who works at the nearby port.

Rebels face a tough situation. Ben Jawwad is full of civilians and Gaddafi's troops are using them as human shields.

Rebels want to fight the troops but don't want to endanger civilians; the result is tens of injured among the rebels. Some were transferred to nearby hospitals in Ras Lanouf and Egdabya; others were trapped and denied transfer, and many went missing.

Mustafa Boreiqi lost touch with his brother in the clashes. He was hoping to find him in the hospital but didn't.

"It was so bloody, too many air raids, and they sprayed us with poisonous bombs. I couldn't see my brother and we all ran for our lives; we had no weapons to protect ourselves," said Boreiqi.

At the small Ras Lanouf hospital, doctors and nurses were running to and fro in disbelief. "Over 45 injured seriously in the chest, thighs, and limbs; they are mostly hit by anti-aircraft arms," said Dr Mustafa Martadi, a general surgeon who rushed to help from Benghazi, 700 kilometres away from Ben Jawwad.

On the way back from Ras Lanouf, more rebel cars and more ambulances were rushing to the Ben Jawwad battle. The final death toll is yet to be known while means of communication are scant.

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