The Emergence of a Guerrilla War in the West of Libya

AlMasry AlYoum: Overwhelmed by the superior firepower of Muammar Qadhafi’s troops, opposition fighters in western Libya are resorting increasingly to guerrilla tactics in their campaign to topple the veteran leader.

Unlike eastern Libya, where rebels hold many coastal cities, the west of the country remains firmly under Qadhafi’s control.

The proximity to the nerve center of Qadhafi’s powerful military apparatus in the capital Tripoli makes it hard for fragmented dissenters to organize their actions into a movement.

But that may now be changing. Tripoli residents said there have been several attacks on army checkpoints and a police station in the past week, and gunfights can be heard at night.

In one attack a week ago, opposition supporters stormed a checkpoint in eastern Tripoli and seized arms, residents said.

“There have been attacks by Tripoli people and a lot of people have been killed on the Qadhafi army side,” said a Libyan rebel sympathizer who lives in exile aboad and maintains daily contact with colleagues in the restive suburb of Tajoura.

Asked who the attackers were, he said they were local residents who wanted to topple the Libyan leader.

Either part of a broader rebel plan or simply a spontaneous evolution of tactics, the shift toward more urban resistance could add a new dimension to the two-month-old conflict and work to erode Qadhafi’s support base in his main western stronghold.

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