Gadhafi Ups Airstrikes as Rookie Mistakes Trip Rebels

Their forces are untrained, and barely organized
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 8, 2011 7:33 AM CST
Updated Mar 8, 2011 7:55 AM CST
A Libyan rebel waves his hand gun as he gather with fellow fighters at a checkpoint in the outskirts of the key oil port of Ras Lanuf on March 7, 2011.   (Getty Images)
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(Newser) – Moammar Gadhafi’s forces launched at least three new airstrikes against Libyan rebels today near the oil port of Ras Lanouf, and one witness says the Gadhafi loyalists also recaptured Zawiyah, the city closest to Gadhafi’s stronghold in Tripoli, the AP reports. Meanwhile, in the rebel-held east, a spokesperson for the new Interim Governing Council says a man who claimed to represent Gadhafi reached out to discuss terms for the country’s leader to step down but was refused: “No negotiations with the Gadhafi regime.”

The untrained, unruly, loosely organized rebel forces are hurting themselves as the conflict drags on, notes the Los Angeles Times. Clad in jeans and T-shirts, these are students, accountants, deliverymen—not soldiers. And what soldiers they do count among them are having a difficult time teaching the rebels: In their often premature jubilation, they fire precious ammunition into the air or leave it strewn about the desert; when they do aim at something, be it a person or an aircraft, they often miss. "They are very brave, and they believe in the revolution,” says one Libyan air force veteran among their ranks. “But they don't know much about the military.”

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