Qaddafi diehards cornered in Sirte
October 19, 2011
Last of the Martyrs at Sirte - Mustafa bin Dardef, a field commander with the Zintan Brigade, a businessman in Benghazi, leaves wife, a son and four daughters, and Sheikh Naser Zuway of Sydney, Australia, who was born in Libya but fled the Gaddafi regime 16 years ago. In March this year the sheikh told The World Today that he had returned to Libya to protect his wife and children who were on holidays there, and he said he was staying to see democracy established.
NASER ZUWAY: "I'm prepared to die for the sake of freedom and justice and to see our country taking their place in the world and Gaddafi to leave Libya. It's not better for the Libyan only. It's better for the Australian, better for the Europe, better for the entire world."
The end of the Battle of Sirte
Moammar Qaddafi's remaining diehards have been cornered into a small section of the ousted strongman's hometown Sirte after a fierce battle which saw heavy casualties, a commander said Wednesday.
Essam Baghhar, field commander for the Zintan Brigade, told AFP that one of two neighborhoods in the Mediterranean city that had still been under the control of Qaddafi loyalists fell to fighters of the National Transitional Council (NTC) late on Tuesday.
"The Dollar neighborhood was liberated last night and now the fight is in Number Two neighborhood," Baghhar said.
He added that loyalist forces had been pushed into an area of Number Two neighborhood less than one square kilometer (0.4 square mile) in size.
"We have captured many snipers in the past two days, including two women snipers," the commander said.
Medics said at least 11 NTC fighters were killed and 95 wounded in the battle to subdue the last pockets of resistance in Sirte on Tuesday alone.
Among those killed was Mustafa bin Dardef, a popular field commander with the Zintan Brigade, who was hit by a mortar round. A businessman in Benghazi before he joined the uprising, he leaves a son and four daughters.
Sirte, the very last bastion of Qaddafi support, is seen as strategic as the NTC has said it will not declare Libya fully freed of Qaddafi's 42-year autocratic rule until his hometown falls.
In the desert oasis of Bani Walid, the red, black and green flag of the new government was raised after the only other remaining holdout was liberated on Monday.
Qaddafi was toppled in August when NTC fighters overran his headquarters in the capital Tripoli. He has since gone into hiding, with some NTC officials believing he could be in Sirte, making a last stand.
Reports Sydney Muslim leader killed in Libya
Posted October 19, 2011 13:02:00
The family of Sydney man who's been in Libya since March say he has been killed in the city of Sirte. They say that he was killed by a Gaddafi loyalist soilder and that the Shiekh who was supporting the National Transitional Council was helping people get medical aid. His reported death is being investigated by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.
Source: The World Today | Duration: 4min 4sec
Play MP3 of Reports Sydney Muslim leader killed in Libya (minutes)
Reports of Sydney Muslim leader killed in Libya
The family of a Sydney man who's been in Libya since March, say he's been killed in the coastal city of Sirte, the last bastion of pro-Gaddafi forces. The relatives say Sheikh Naser Zuway was supporting the National Transitional Council and helping locals get medical aid, but was killed by a Gaddafi loyalist. His reported death is being investigated by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. MORE
ELEANOR HALL: To reports that a Sydney Muslim leader has been killed in Libya.
Sheikh Naser Zuway went to Libya in March and his family says he's been killed in the fierce fighting in Sirte.
As Felicity Ogilvie reports, the sheik told The World Today earlier this year that he was willing to die for the sake of freedom in Libya.
FELICITY OGILVIE: The Sydney-based Sheikh, Naser Zuway was born in Libya but fled the Gaddafi regime 16 years ago.
In March this year the sheikh told The World Today that he had returned to Libya to protect his wife and children who were on holidays there, and he said he was staying to see democracy established.
NASER ZUWAY: I'm prepared to die for the sake of freedom and justice and to see our country taking their place in the world and Gaddafi to leave Libya.
It's not better for the Libyan only. It's better for the Australian, better for the Europe, better for the entire world.
FELICITY OGILVIE: One of his relatives, Hassan Enbaiwa, says the sheikh was killed by a Gaddafi loyalist soldier in the city of Sirte on Monday.
The city has been the site of fresh fighting between those loyal to the new leadership and those loyal to Gaddafi.
Mr Enbaiwa says that Sheikh Naser Zuway had been helping people get aid.
HASSAN ENBAIWA: He's killed inside Sirte in a suburb named Hay al Doller.
He doing is help the people have problem to medical and take these people to hospital because he has idea about this job medical.
FELICITY OGILVIE: Keysar Trad from the Islamic Friendship Association of Australia is speaking on behalf of the sheikh's extended family.
Mr Trad says it's still unclear exactly what the sheikh was doing in Sirte when he was killed.
KEYSAR TRAD: We don't know the full details. I know in the first month or so when he got there he was asking me to help him get medical supplies from Turkey and I received an invoice from one of the medical suppliers in Turkey for medical supplies for treatment of broken limbs and treatment of burns et cetera.
And after that we heard that he was helping defend his people, he was helping look after one of the cities and the specific details of what was happening in Sirte, none of us has any idea at the moment.
FELICITY OGILVIE: So when you say that in the past he was helping to defend his people does that mean that he was part of the anti-Gaddafi fighters?
KEYSAR TRAD: Look he was with the resistance with the National Transitional Council. He's very close friends with the leadership of that transitional council and I don't know the extent of the duties that were allocated to him.
He may well have been defending people with arms but we don't know at this stage the extent of that.
FELICITY OGILVIE: The sheikh's relatives say that he was buried in Benghazi yesterday.
The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade hasn't confirmed the sheikh's death.
They're investigating the reports and are in contact with his family.
Keysar Trad says a service will be held in Sydney tomorrow.
KEYSAR TRAD: We will sorely miss him but we are consoled with the fact that this is a person who was very, very dynamic, very hardworking and he died for a cause that he strongly supported and that is the freedom and liberation of people who are being oppressed.
FELICITY OGILVIE: Elsewhere in Libya the US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has made a surprise visit to the capital Tripoli where she's urged the National Transitional Council to unify its various militias into a single national army under civilian command.
Though the militias express loyalty to the new government many analysts see them as the biggest threat to Libya's unity.
Two months after capturing Tripoli the council has stamped out all pro-Gaddafi resistance except in the coastal city of Sirte.
That failure, and the continued existence of the militias, continue to raise questions about the council's ability to exert its authority over the entire country and also postpones the launch of its promised democracy program.
ELEANOR HALL: Felicity Ogilvie reporting.
HUNDREDS of mourners are expected to attend the sunset service for a Sydney Islamic leader killed after joining the fight against Muammar Gaddafi.
The condolence ceremony and sunset service is to be held for Sheik Naser Zuway at Lakemba in western Sydney at 7.20pm (AEDT) today.
Sydney Islamic community spokesman Keysar Trad said "hundreds" of mourners were expected to attend, including the new grand mufti, Dr Ibrahim Abu Mohammad.
Sheik Zuway was president of the Australian Union of Africa and Arab Associations and had arrived in Australia from Libya as a political refugee in the 1990s.
He had been appointed imam of a Cabramatta mosque and would be remembered as a hero of liberation, Mr Trad said.
"His cousins see him as a national hero of the liberation who risked everything to free his fellow human beings from tyranny and oppression; they see him as a Christ-like figure in terms of making the sacrifice," Mr Trad said.
Mr Rudd confirmed the death of Sheik Zuway yesterday and said a funeral service had already taken place, adding that Australian officials were still seeking information about his fate.
In an interview with ABC Radio in March, Sheik Zuway said he travelled to Benghazi to protect his wife and children who were holidaying in the city when the Libyan uprising began.
After he arrived, he decided to stay and said he would not return to Australia until Colonel Gaddafi was defeated.
"I'm prepared to die for the sake of freedom and justice and to see our country taking their place in the world and Gaddafi to leave Libya," he said at the time.
One of Sheik Zuway's relatives, Hassan Enbaiwa, told the ABC yesterday he was killed by a Gaddafi loyalist in Sirte on Monday while helping people in a suburb named Hay al Dollar.