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A Night at the Gravel Pit (Updated)

3:38 PM, Aug 4, 2011 • By ANN MARLOWE
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We take an exhausting nine-hour drive through a dust storm into Tunisia, and arrive in Djerba—location of the Sabratha exile community—at 3 a.m. Just before the turn off to Djerba is a road sign pointing to Tripoli, just 237 km east. We all exchange emails and Tunisian phone numbers, and the next day I call Ahmed from Lancashire. You guys should come to my hotel to go swimming, I tell him. Great beach. “Ahmed went back to Zintan a few hours ago,” Ahmed says. “He got a call early this morning saying that they need him.” I feel for the lanky teenager, on the verge of taking a swim at last, pulled back to the grimy camp. Maybe the offensive is beginning at last.

UPDATE: Dr. Ibrahim writes: "I came back home. I feel I should stay to help the guys. The advance toward the north started yesterday early morning. The guys took the Al-Mahmaya (a Qaddafi military base, between our base and Sabratha). This is good news. But a few are injured, 2 are missing, and one from Zintan was killed. Masood, who was supposed to accompany us to Djerba and see his family, but had been asked by the leader to stay, is one of the missing guys. Very nice man who used to live in Holland before 17th Feb. One of the injuried by land mine is Hasan. He is one of the leaders. Very nice and brave guy, known by the other guys as Sarkozy! I am trying to sort out a few things here so that I can go back soon."

UPDATE II: Dr. Ibrahim again writes in: "I have got news from the the guys. The missing guys have been found safe this morning. Qaddafi's troops tried to attack our fighters new position again, but the guys were ready and pushed them back. Yesterday's fighting left more than 200 hundred soldiers killed (most of them were from Chad and Niger!). News from Sabratha & Surman mentioned that hospitals are full of injuried from Qaddafi forces. I hope that Sabratha will be soon under the hand of its people..."

Ann Marlowe is a visiting fellow at the Hudson Institute and blogs for World Affairs.

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