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The Fight for Zwara—and Liberty

7:44 PM, Aug 25, 2011 • By ANN MARLOWE
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Two local men, from a population of about 50,000, were killed in the fighting. The revolutionary forces were, as usual, poorly organized. Some who had accompanied the general were used to fighting together and had trained for two months in the mountains. But others were literally picking up their weapons for the first time yesterday.

There is no chain of command among the revolutionaries. Every man feels he has the right to speak directly to his commander. This means that each brigade commander must speak with about 100 men to give orders, often receiving unwarranted—and unwanted—feed back from the fighters. It’s a miracle that more of the revolutionaries have not been killed.

The city was quiet all day today, after the NATO airstrike. Meanwhile, civilian representatives from the towns of Jumayl, Rigdalin, and Zultan met with leaders from Zwara to discuss peace terms. The Zwara men feel that the others are negotiating sincerely, and believe them when they say they have little or no control over many of the Qaddafi fighters based in their area.

Most of the population of Jumayl, Rigdalin, and Zultan historically supported Qaddafi and disliked the people of Zwara. However, even they seem to recognize that the game is nearing an end. The problem, they say, is that the Qaddafi brigades and volunteers are not in their control and want to keep fighting, with some thinking that Qaddafi will make a comeback (as unlikely as that might sound).

And dozens of Zwara men complain that their enemy is fighting for nothing, bitterly resenting the lives that are being lost here while the rest of Libya considers itself free. 

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