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Oct. 11 (Bloomberg) -- Libyan fighters advanced to the center of Sirte, Muammar Qaddafi’s hometown, pushing out forces loyal to the former leader, North Atlantic Treaty Organization spokesman Colonel Roland Lavoie said.
“Qaddafi forces have been dislodged from the university, the conference center and the main hospital,” Lavoie told reporters today via video link from the mission’s headquarters in Naples, Italy. “They have lost key positions and cannot effectively control the city or be reinforced or resupplied.”
Libya’s National Transitional Council, which took over control of the capital, Tripoli, from Qaddafi in late August, says a new government to see the country through to elections will be announced a month after Sirte is fully under its control. Thousands of civilians have fled the city during lulls in the fighting, which erupted early last month after talks on its surrender broke down.
Humanitarian aid can now reach Sirte’s main hospital and civilians are able to escape from contested areas, Lavoie said. Valerie Amos, the United Nations coordinator for emergency relief, called yesterday on both sides in the conflict to spare civilians from the effects of hostilities, and enable medical treatment for casualties.
In Bani Walid, a landlocked town further south held by Qaddafi supporters, NTC forces are moving toward the outskirts of the town, where “the situation was static until last weekend,” Lavoie said. The council says senior Qaddafi aides are hiding in the town, including Saif al-Islam, the former leader’s son and presumed heir.
NATO, which began an air campaign to protect civilians in March about a month after the uprising began, is “essentially monitoring the situation” and stands ready to help when needed, Lavoie said.
--Editors: Ben Holland, Karl Maier.
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