At least 17 rebel soldiers were killed today and another 50 wounded when they attempted to attack the desert town of Bani Walid, one of the few northern towns still under the control of loyalist forces. The soldiers fled after fierce clashes.
NATO commanders said they were surprised by the “tenacity” of the remnant forces, while expressing confidence that the key loyalist city of Sirte would soon be conquered. Officials say they will continue to launch air strikes to support the rebels.
The new attacks on Bani Walid are the first major attacks against the town in weeks, since the last offensive came to a halt in the face of growing desertion among rebel forces complaining of poor organization.
Rebels say the most recent retreat was merely a “tactical pullback,” and predicted that reinforcements would soon arrive to help them capture the town from the loyalists.