About 1,000 Libyan revolutionary troops launched a major assault on Muammar Qadhafi’s hometown on Tuesday, surging from the east to try to capture the last area under loyalist control.
The push to rout the remaining resistance from Sirte came a day after commanders announced they had captured most of a second stronghold, Bani Walid.
While welcoming successes in Bani Walid, Libya’s new leaders have said they would only declare liberation after the fall of Sirte, which would have symbolic value as well as give them control of the country’s ports and harbours.
Revolutionary fighters have been locked in battle in Sirte and suffering heavy casualties after launching what they said would be an all-out final assault on Oct. 7.
Libyan fighters have squeezed the die-hard Qadhafi supporters into an area comprising just a few blocks but have been unable to gain full control of the city.
It has been more than two months since the former rebels gained control of the capital and much of the rest of the oil-rich North African nation. Persistent fighting has prevented Libya’s new leaders from declaring final victory and setting a timeline for elections.