Alexblx · @Alexblx

20th Jul 2011 from Twitlonger

WSJ: 'SOUTH LIBYA IS RISING!'DETAILS:MAP: "The rebel fighting force that is now rumbling through the southwestern desert was first mustered in late May and early June in the southeastern oasis city of #Kufra, said rebel activists and rebel officials from southern #Libya.

A resident of the southern town of #Qatrun, which rebels took last week, estimated the force includes between 60 and 65 four-by-four vehicles and as many as 300 fighters.

Earlier this month, the force captured a remote desert airfield and army outpost called #AlWigh, near Libya's borders with #Niger and soon after seized the #Tumu border crossing with Niger, said those interviewed.

The force began advancing north, toward #Sebha, and last week, the force took the village of #Qatron without a fight. On Sunday, pro- #Gadhafi fighters attacked the advancing rebels, said a resident of the village and a rebel commander on the ground, Ramadan Al-Alakie.

The rebel fighters repulsed the attack and pressed their advance, both men said.

The retreating Gadhafi forces concentrated in Taraghin, the hometown of #BashirSalah, Col. Gadhafi's chief of staff, to block the rebel advance to Sebha. The rebel force simply went around the town, and on Monday took control of the tiny village of Umm al-Aranib, they said. Now, just 80 miles of empty desert and one tiny village stand between the rebels and Sebha.

Through the first months of the uprising, little information leaked out from Sebha, where the powerful Magarha and Col. Gadhafi's own Gadhadfa tribes, both pillars of his regime, hold sway. It was long thought that the city was such a fierce bastion of pro-Gadhafi support that it was all but impregnable.

But in recent weeks, cracks have begun to show in Sebha. Two YouTube videos have been posted that rebel activists say depict anti-Gadhafi demonstrations in the city. Libyans living abroad who are from Sebha and still have family and friends there said the city has seen sporadic violent protests for the past two months.

The arrest in May of a small group of high school students who displayed the rebel independence flag at school angered powerful families in Sebha, said Khalid Al-Humeida, a #Libyan Ph.D. student in Britain who spent the past 15 years living in Sebha and has friends and relatives still there.

The students, whose whereabouts remain unknown, hailed from families with long histories of loyalty to Col. Gadhafi. Still, when family elders appealed to local security commanders to release their sons or even for information on their whereabouts, arguing that they were simply misguided teenagers, they were ignored, said Mr. Humeida.

A protest on the streets where some of the arrested students' families live turned violent, said Mr. Humeida, adding that a 30-year-old father of two, Ismail Busbeiha, was shot and wounded during the protest. At a Sebha hospital, doctors were forbidden to treat him and he died, Mr. Humeida said. After his funeral the following day, Sebha saw its biggest anti-Gadhafi street protests of the war.

Sebha's pro-Gadhafi tribal leaders stepped in to restore a negotiated but uneasy calm in the city, but activists from Sebha say the city isn't the staunch pro-Gadhafi bastion that the regime has sought to portray.

"You're starting to see a network and trust forming between anti-Gadhafi people in Sebha," said Mr. Humeida. "Gadhafi's support in the city is not as strong as people think."

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