Forces loyal to Muammar Gaddafi attacked rebel areas of Libya’s Western Mountains while insurgents moved to secure billions of dollars to feed and supply their territories and drive their military campaign.
Ali Tarhouni, head of the rebel national council’s finance committee, said on Tuesday he expected France, Italy and the United States to extend credit secured against frozen Libyan state assets. Money should arrive in a week to ten days.
“I need about $2-3 billion and we are hoping to get most or all of this,” Tarhouni told reporters in the eastern rebel stronghold of Benghazi, Reuters reports.
Forces loyal to Gaddafi, not seen in public since officials said he survived an attack on a Tripoli building on Saturday, kept up pressure on rebel western outposts.
Two rebel spokesmen told Reuters there was fighting taking place in the eastern suburbs of the rebel western outpost of Misrata between rebels and Gaddafi forces.
Misrata’s port is a lifeline for the besieged city and has been under heavy bombardment.
“Fighting is taking place in the area of Bourouia. The (pro-Gaddafi) brigades are trying to enter the Tamina area, east of the city,” said one of the spokesmen, called Reda.
He said there were NATO aircraft in the skies over the city but was not able to say if there had been any air strikes.
ECONOMY IN TATTERS
With Libya’s economy in tatters after more than two months of civil war, funds to pay for food, medicine and the state salaries on which most of the population depends are running low.
The insurgents had been hoping for a swift overthrow of Gaddafi but his better-trained and better-equipped militias halted the rebel advance west and forced a stalemate in the fighting that could last for months.
“We are still discovering different segments that need to be paid that we thought were paid,” said Tarhouni. “At every single moment another need arises in terms of food, medicine and in terms of people who are injured.”
Supplies of fuel vital to keeping eastern towns supplied and maintain the military campaign against Gaddafi are also tight.
Like anti-Gaddafi groups in other parts of Libya, rebels in the Western Mountains want more help from Western warplanes. ”
MINES BLOCK PORT
NATO minesweepers searched the approaches of Misrata harbour on Monday for a drifting mine blocking aid supplies.
A NATO statement said the alliance had destroyed two of three mines laid by government forces. It said the mines were small and hard to detect but capable of doing serious damage.
The International Organisation for Migration said an aid ship was still waiting off Misrata for bombing to stop and mines to be cleared before it tried to deliver supplies and evacuate some 1,000 foreigners and wounded Libyans.
Crowds chanting support for Gaddafi gathered in Tripoli on Monday for the funeral of his 29-year-old son Saif al-Arab. The government says a NATO air raid on Saturday killed him and three of Gaddafi’s young grandchildren.
Gaddafi did not appear to be at the funeral but Saif al-Islam, the most prominent of his seven sons, attended along with his elder half-brother Mohammed.
Switzerland said it had found 360 million Swiss francs of potentially illegal assets linked to Gaddafi and his circle. Some 410 million had been traced to former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and 60 million to former Tunisian President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali.