Libya Live Blog
Libya - Aug 1, 2011 - 18:44
Al Jazeera's Hoda Abdel Hamid has just been reporting live from just outside the western town of Zlitan, where rebel forces are advancing.
I can confirm that the opposition's fighters are on the outskirts of Zlitan ... from the vantage point where we were earlier, we could see the town of Zlitan a few kilometres away. So they really are on the outskirts of the town. It's still a very fluid situation, Gaddafi forces are putting up a battle. Opposition fighters have told us that yesterday actually several tanks of Gaddafi forces have tried to pierce through their defensive lines. So still we can't say that that area is under control, but they have reached it.
They need to enter the town of Zlitan, they say that is the biggest urban area before Tripoli, that's about 150km west of Zlitan. But it is a risky business. For one, they will admit to you that there are residents inside Zlitan who openly say that they support Colonel Gaddafi. There are other residents who say that they do not want to see the rebels, because they actually don't back either side. So that's one big challenge for them.
The second big challenge is that so far, as they were pushing, most of the battles were in open fields, in open areas. Now that they are at the outskirts of Zlitan, they're actually in an area where there are some residential homes. As far as we could tell, most of the people who are living there fled that area, but they know that there are civilians inside Zlitan and if they go inside Zlitan it could turn into street-fighting, and that's where the NATO mandate comes into question, because NATO is supposed to protect civilians regardless [of] where the fire is coming from. So it is a big problem for them.