Thursday, August 25, 2011

Assault on Tripoli 'planned weeks ago'

Details emerge of rebel and Nato plans to oust Gaddafi, involving bombing, sleeper cells and special forces squads

Richard Norton-Taylor and Dominic Rushe
The Guardian, Thursday 25 August 2011

"Details of the rebel uprising in Tripoli are emerging, showing weeks of careful planning by rebels and their international allies before they seized the Libyan capital.....

British military and civilian advisers, including special forces troops, along with those from France, Italy and Qatar, have spent months with rebel fighters, giving them key, up-to-date intelligence and watching out for any al-Qaida elements trying to infiltrate the rebellion.

More details emerged yesterday of how Nato forces helped Libyan rebels storm Tripoli. "Honestly, Nato played a very big role in liberating Tripoli. They bombed all the main locations that we couldn't handle with our light weapons," said Fadlallah Haroun, a military spokesman who helped organise the operation, according to the Associated Press.

Prior to the attack, rebels smuggled weapons into Tripoli and stashed them in safe houses. Local revolutionaries were told that protests would begin after the Ramadan evening prayers on 20 August, a day that coincidentally marks the anniversary of the prophet Muhammad's liberation of Mecca.....

Covert special forces teams from Qatar, France, Britain and some east European states provided critical assistance, such as logisticians, forward air controllers for the rebel army, as well as damage-assessment analysts and other experts, a diplomat at Nato's HQ in Brussels told AP.

Foreign military advisers on the ground provided real-time intelligence to the rebels, enabling them to maximise their limited firepower against the enemy....

The western advisers are expected to remain in Libya, advising on how to maintain law and order on the streets, and on civil administration, following Gaddafi's downfall....."

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