It's an uneven fight – but the people of Zintan feel they have nothing to lose.
With a shout of “Allah Akbar,” one of these citizen soldiers moves towards the enemy positioned one hundred yards away. His comrades, most of them without military training or experience, follow hesitantly. Soon they are forced to retreat under a hail of gunfire.
Even though it is effectively surrounded, Zintan has been helping other towns in the region.
Weapons, including some anti-aircraft guns, have been hidden away in the surrounding countryside. Local engineers have installed telephone lines and satellite connections to communicate with the other insurgent cities.
"Even if Zawiyah and Tripoli are occupied and surrounded, we know how to get through to the people there and how to help them,” said Adel, a young engineer in Zintan talking to Radio Swisse Normande.
He added: “The people of Zintan know the desert well. We can get all the way to Zawiyah across the desert without using any of the roads. We have been sending them food and medicines.”
Despite their primitive weapons, the insurgents have won some significant victories against Gaddafi’s forces.
“They attacked Zintan and were preparing to come back to destroy the city,” one insurgent told Florent Marcie, adding with pride: “We laid an ambush and captured three tanks.”
Nevertheless, there is no decisive victory in sight against Gaddafi’s men, who are gaining more ground every day.
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