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17 Oct, 2011 13:33

Families of Gaddafi aides flee Sirte as clashes continue

Fighting is continuing in Sirte, the hometown of Libya’s ousted leader Muammar Gaddafi, causing families of his aides to stream out of the town. NTC forces have also entered the Gaddafi stronghold of Bani Walid where resistance is fierce.

Amidst the disturbances in Sirte, seen as the last obstacle to the new authorities declaring the country’s full liberation and scheduling elections, the families of Gaddafi’s aides are fleeing the town. The mother and brother of Muammar Gaddafi’s spokesman, Mussa Ibrahim, are among them, according to an NTC field commander quoted by the AFP news agency.Wessam bin Hamaidi said several cars packed with men, women and children fled Sirte on Monday. He confirmed that there were officials of the former regime among them, but no key figures, and added that Gaddafi soldiers had managed to hide amongst the fleeing civilians.Dibeh Fakhr from the International Committee of the Red Cross who has joined RT from Tripoli says the organization is now concerned that civilians might still be trapped in the besieged part of Sirte. “A certain area of it is still in hard fighting. The hospital in Ibn Sina has been working in extremely difficult conditions, several patients have been evacuated,” she said. She added that the situation is now improving, with efforts being made by doctors and volunteers who have gone to help staff at the hospital cope with the situation.

Libyan revolutionary forces continued to shell Sirte on Monday as they stepped up their efforts to end the month-long siege of Muammar Gaddafi's hometown. The NATO-backed forces have besieged the city for weeks and now control much of it after launching a major push more than a week ago.For weeks, NTC commanders have been saying that the fighting would end soon. However so far, that has not been accomplished, mostly due to unexpectedly fierce resistance by Gaddafi loyalists.Mohammed Salem, a missile-spotter for the revolutionary forces, said on Monday that they have the loyalists corralled into a "small area.” "With God's will we will finish them off," said Salem, as quoted by AP.Interim leader Mustafa Abdul-Jalil is hoping to declare the city liberated this week after what he expected would be the imminent fall of Sirte. That could allow the NTC to name a new interim government and set a timeline for holding elections within eight months.Meanwhile, Colonel Gaddafi has tried to encourage his supporters with several audio recordings broadcast by a TV station in Syria.