Battle for Sirte looms; Qaddafi forces accused of using residents as “human shields”

NATO warplanes have carried out repeated air raids on Moammar Qaddafi’s hometown of Sirte over the past three days, as NTC forces advanced on his last major bastion of support. The strikes have hit supply convoys, bunkers and other targets of the Qaddafi-loyalist forces. NTC leaders charge that Qaddafi forces in the town and surrounding villages are using the populace as “human shields,” refusing to let residents flee in advance of the impending battle, and even taking over their homes. (Oman Tribune, Aug. 29; The Guardian, Aug. 28; BBC Arabic service via Link TV, Aug. 26)

Some of Qaddafi’s immediate family are reported to have fled to neighboring Algeria. The fugitive strongman’s wife, Safia, daughter Aisha and two sons, Hannibal and Mohammad, with their wives and children, apparently crossed the border early yesterday morning, the Algeria Press Service reported. The TNC is demanding they be returned to Libya to stand trial. Another son of the missing strongman, military commander Khamis Qaddafi, is reported to have been killed in a NATO air-strike southeast of Tripoli. (Bloomberg, Aug. 29)

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