C J Chivers reports:
Ahmad Harari, a Libyan rebel fighting to overthrow Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi, recounted how he was almost killed last week.
He was part of a small group of fighters assigned to defend a front-line position in Qawalish, a village in Libya’s arid western highlands. Then Colonel Qaddafi’s military attacked, rushing forward in pickup trucks.
Mr. Harari said he had only 18 cartridges for his rifle, roughly the same amount of ammunition carried by everyone in his group. Within minutes he ran out.
“Every man lost all of his bullets and tried to escape,” he said. A friend was captured, killed and mutilated, he said, but the others managed to get away.
While the Libyan rebels have carved out an enclave in the west, the dearth of ammunition in Mr. Harari’s group points to one of the continuing drains on their military strength — an absence of coordination, even on matters as basic as making sure that ample ammunition is provided to the front-line fighters.
As Libya’s uprising-turned-desert-war enters its sixth month, the rebels in the mountains have assembled into small bands of local fighters. These groups — often named for the towns the fighters come from — have demonstrated both an eagerness to fight and a willingness to work with almost anyone who can help them reach their goal of ousting the Qaddafi family from power.
But coordination between them, as well as logistical help from their higher commands and foreign supporters, has not developed in important ways. In eastern Libya, the rebel authorities talk of making a national army; here in the west, the state of official disorganization makes the prospects for such a force unlikely in the near term.
Meanwhile, The Guardian reports:
Libyan rebels claimed to have made significant advances against Muammar Gaddafi’s forces on Thursday amid signs that the regime is feeling the strain of offensives backed by Nato air power.
Rebels in the western city of Misrata said they had captured the chief of operations of government forces in Zlitan on the first day of their attack.
General Abdul Nabih Zayid was caught late on Wednesday after advancing fighters overran his command post at Souk Talat, a small village on the outskirts of Zlitan, opposition commanders said.
“We have him in custody. He is being well looked after,” said Mohamed Frefr, in charge of detainees for the rebels. “After three days talking with him, we will hand him to the military prison.”
Growing confidence was also expressed by rebel officials from Misrata, who met Nicholas Sarkozy, the French president, and reportedly told him that with help, they could be in Tripoli within days.