In Libya, Gadhafi's Forces Hold Rebels Back Western airstrikes this week have devastated Gadhafi's anti-aircraft systems and destroyed at least one armored column in eastern Libya, but the situation on the ground remains essentially unchanged. The rebels have regained control of their self-styled capital, Benghazi, but their efforts to expand westward have been thwarted by Gadhafi's forces. Host Robert Siegel speaks to NPR's David Greene in Tripoli and Eric Westervelt in Benghazi.
NPR logo

In Libya, Gadhafi's Forces Hold Rebels Back

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/134800868/134800855" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript
In Libya, Gadhafi's Forces Hold Rebels Back

In Libya, Gadhafi's Forces Hold Rebels Back

In Libya, Gadhafi's Forces Hold Rebels Back

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/134800868/134800855" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

Western airstrikes this week have devastated Gadhafi's anti-aircraft systems and destroyed at least one armored column in eastern Libya, but the situation on the ground remains essentially unchanged. The rebels have regained control of their self-styled capital, Benghazi, but their efforts to expand westward have been thwarted by Gadhafi's forces. Host Robert Siegel speaks to NPR's David Greene in Tripoli and Eric Westervelt in Benghazi.

ROBERT SIEGEL, Host:

We're now going to hear from two of our correspondents inside Libya. First, to NPR's Eric Westervelt, who's in Benghazi. Eric, you've been down to the front lines south of Benghazi, how would you assess the situation there?

ERIC WESTERVELT: But they really have no effective communication system still, no coherent strategy, no effective leadership. They're not trained soldiers, and they're not effective fighters and they're getting beat.

SIEGEL: OK. That's Eric Westervelt, who is in Benghazi. Hang on the line, Eric, we're going to go to the capital, Tripoli, where NPR's David Greene is - David, what's the Libyan government saying about the situation on the ground?

DAVID GREENE: It's hard to know the truth because international aid groups, journalists have effectively been locked out of that city by the government and so the government's able to really tell the story the way it wants to.

SIEGEL: That's David Greene in Tripoli. And now back to Eric Westervelt in Benghazi. Eric, the rebel leadership today announced the appointment of a prime minister. His name is Mahmoud Jibril. What do you know about him? What can you tell us about his appointment?

WESTERVELT: You know, but provisional leaders you talk to here say this was necessary to try to get greater recognition from the international community to show that we're organized. And they're certainly better organized as a government than they are as a fighting force and to try to set the stage, they say, for a transition to democracy and to show that there's an alternative to the Gadhafi regime that's starting to get organized.

SIEGEL: I'd just like to hear from both of you and we'll start with David Greene in Tripoli and then Eric Westervelt in Benghazi. What is life like in these cities now? Are people buying things and going to work or is everything stopped now that the country is in an effective state of war. David?

GREENE: But it gave us a chance to take in some of the scenes of the city. And a lot of shops are closed. A lot of the roads were fairly empty and so you are getting a sense that people are fearful right now. But, really, the routine is at night. After sundown, it's when the air strikes have come every single night the last four nights and I think people are ready for that. When darkness comes, they're ready for the noise to come.

SIEGEL: And, Eric, what's it like in Benghazi?

WESTERVELT: Very few shops are open. People are tense and nervous. We hear nightly clashes, gunfire and explosions and sometimes firefights in the middle of the night. The city is not back to normal. Everyone's focused on the fight down the road, how they can support it, either, you know, strategically or physically by going out to the front. And things certainly are not back to normal here.

SIEGEL: Well, thanks to both of you and take care.

WESTERVELT: Thank you, Robert.

GREENE: Thank you, Robert.

SIEGEL: That's NPR's Eric Westervelt in Benghazi, Libya, and David Greene in the Libyan capital, Tripoli.

Copyright © 2011 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at www.npr.org for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.