Besieged Gaddafi Stronghold Bani Walid Under Attack
By Stephen Lendman
Washington’s war on Libya rages. Fighting didn’t stop after NATO said its seven-month 2011 “mission” ended. Ravaging a nonbelligerent country wasn’t good enough.
Occupation harshness inflicts more pain. Jamahiriya Green Resistance is strong. Its struggle continues. It won’t stop until Libya regains freedom. Loyalists want no part of NATO control, puppet leaders, imperial plundering, and ordinary Libyans used and abused.
Frequent freedom fights erupt. Tribes are involved. Local militias have their own agenda. Insurgents battle each other and Green Resistance for control. Government forces serve Washington and key NATO partners.
Since early October, Bani Walid’s been besieged. Thousands of militiamen are involved. Food, medical supplies, fuel and other essentials are in short supply. Armed men block vehicles with medical and other essential supplies from entering.
Residential neighborhoods are attacked. Nearby villages were looted and burned. Libya’s so-called General National Congress (GNC) approved the assault.
Puppet rulers want residents to hand over individuals allegedly responsible for killing Omran Shaaban. He’s an insurgent involved in Gaddafi’s capture and death.
Last fall, NATO ravaged Bani Walid. For weeks, terror bombing, indiscriminate shelling, and ground attacks left it looking like a ghost town. It was one of Libya’s last cities to fall. It’s home to over 80,000 residents.
They paid a huge price. Casualties were high. Many died or were wounded. Thousands were displaced. Hundreds were arrested and imprisoned. Their crime was wanting to live free.
Bani Walid residents again are under attack. So far they’re holding out valiantly. Last fall, NATO and insurgent forces used chemical and other illegal weapons. Reports suggest they’re used now.
Injuries are unrelated to conventional weapons. Israel does the same thing to Gazans. So do US forces in Pentagon war theaters.
Mathaba reported that hospitalized residents have severe burns, “hallucinations, muscle spasms, foaming at the mouth, coughing, eye irritations, dizziness, breathing difficulties, and loss of consciousness.”
NATO and enlisted proxy forces fight all their wars dirty. Civilians suffer most. Media scoundrels suppress what they should headline.
Mathaba quoted Dr. Taha Muhammad saying:
“(W)e started receiving patients with strange symptoms that I have not seen before. Those affected were having difficulty breathing, reported dizziness and were coughing.”
“Not everybody displayed the same symptoms, but some were also suffering from hallucinations, foaming at the mouth and loss of consciousness. We believe they had been exposed to some sort of gas.”
Available medical facilities and equipment can’t properly diagnose or treat victims. Doctors cope best they can. Patients suffer. Human rights abuses continue daily.
On October 19, Reuters headlined “Libyan army to head to Bani Walid after clashes,” saying:
Army head Yussef al-Mangoush said troops are “ready to enter Bani Walid, and we expect (it to go) peacefully. The army is going to take control of the security situation.”
Resistance fighter Col. Salem al-Wa’er said “Bani Walid has been shelled since this morning from three sides – the south, the east and southeast.”
City residents say shelling continues. Commerce is shut down. Essentials are running out. Tensions are high.
On October 18, Russia Today headlined “Eleven killed as Libyan militia shell Gaddafi stronghold,” saying:
“Libyan authorities continue to struggle against multiple militia groups in the midst of growing political disarray.”
On October 19, AFP headlined “Fighting keeps mediator out of Libya’s Bani Walid,” saying:
Pro-regime militia fighters pound the city. So far, resistance fighters kept them from entering and gaining control. GNC president Mohammed Megarief promised to come, but fighting kept him away.
Earlier he founded the National Front for the Salvation of Libya (NFSL). It’s a CIA/Saudi financed anti-Jamahiriya group. It operated from October 1981 – May 2012. It actively opposed Gaddafi.
Several times it tried to oust him by coup d’etats and failed. After his demise, it transformed itself into the National Front Party. It won three of 59 seats in the July 2012 GNC election. Mahmoud Jabril’s National Forces Alliance (NFA) got 39 seats.
On October 18, the London Guardian headlined “Confusion rife as Libyan army storms town of Bani Walid.”
So far, army units hadn’t succeeded as planned. Fierce fighting continues. “We started to enter Bani Walid. We are not far away from the center,” said army spokesman Mohammed al-Gandus. “There was a big battle between Bani Walid people and our army.”
Gaddafi supporters are “hiding” there, he added. “They are fighting very well because they know they are going to die soon.”
Reports of their demise may turn out exaggerated. Last fall, NATO said Bani Walid resistance was defeated. A year later, their struggle continues. Millions of Libyans want freedom, not repressive occupation under puppet pro-Western rule.
They haven’t quit fighting and won’t throughout the country. Bani Walid is one of many battlegrounds. Eruptions can break out anywhere anytime. They won’t stop until freedom is won.
At the same time, daily violence causes so much harm to so many. So-called NATO liberation delivers living hell. Mass killing, destruction, and human misery accompany every NATO campaign and remain when they end.
Bani Walid lies 180 km southwest of Tripoli. It’s home base for Libya’s largest Warfalla tribe. It remained loyal to Gaddafi during fighting last year.
Bani Walid fighters are resisting best they can. At least 10 deaths are confirmed and dozens of injuries. The Al-Mardoum valley is most affected. It’s being defended valiantly.
Two earlier attempts this year to take over the city failed. For months it was independent and militia free. Residents assumed responsibility for local security. They’re battling to keep what militias and GNC officials want to destroy.
On October 19, Mathaba headlined “Full Assault on Bani Walid Underway,” saying:
GNC Resolution No. 7 enacted on September 27 calls for army units to arrest those responsible for Omran Shaban’s death. Ground forces attacked the city. Numerous casualties were reported on both sides.
Army commander al-Gandus claimed his troops began entering Bani Walid. They’re heading for the center of town, he said. He claimed winning this fight will free Libya. Residents know he has something else in mind.
Regime officials are largely silent. They said little about their belligerent plans. Expect illegal chemical use again on city residents.
Around 2,000 army forces are involved. Militia fighters supplement their numbers. Casualties on both sides could be high. Bani Walid resident Ibrahim Warfalli denied official reports.
He said resistance fighters maintain airport control and prevented army units from entering the city. At stake is freedom or imperial occupation and control.
Fighting is intense. Army spokesman said he doesn’t know how long it will take to control Bani Walid. “Maybe it will take some days,” he said
“Maybe something unexpected will happen. It will take time if the people supporting Bani Walid use civilians as a shield. We do not want to kill civilians.’ ”
In fact, they’re willfully targeted. During last year’s siege and this year’s, indiscriminate bombing, shelling, and toxic gases caused horrific injuries and many deaths.
Videos and other images show badly wounded children. Some remain on life support. Others succumbed to fighting.
While Bani Walid remains besieged and assaulted, resistance continues elsewhere across Libya. Expect protracted struggle until Jamahiriya triumphs over tyranny. Courageous freedom fighters won’t settle for less.
A Final Comment
On October 17, Human Rights Watch (HRW) headlined “Libya: New Proof of Mass Killings at Gaddafi Death Site. A Year On, No Progress on Inquiry Into Deaths.”
Evidence implicates Misrata-based insurgents. They severely beat and murdered dozens of Gaddafi loyalists they captured. Libyan authorities promised to investigate and did nothing.
According to HRW’s Peter Bouchaert:
“The evidence suggests that opposition militias summarily executed at least 66 captured members of Gaddafi’s convoy in Sirte.”
“It also looks as if they took Mutassim Gaddafi, who had been wounded, to Misrata and killed him there. Our findings call into question the assertion by Libyan authorities that Muammar Gaddafi was killed in crossfire, and not after his capture.”
International law is clear. “Under the laws of war, the killing of captured combatants is a war crime, and Libyan civilian and military authorities have an obligation to investigate war crimes and other violations of international humanitarian law.”
Instead of investigating and prosecuting those responsible, Libyan authorities whitewashed their crimes. Washington, NATO partners, and complicit regional allies bear full responsibility. Their installed Libyan stooges do as they’re told.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
His new book is titled “How Wall Street Fleeces America: Privatized Banking, Government Collusion and Class War”
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.