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Ras Lanuf Junction

Photographer: Kim Ludbrook

 

On 17 February 2011 a rebellion against the 42-year-long rule of Libyan leader, Colonel Muammar Muhammad al-Gaddafi took place. The protests against began peacefully but soon escalated into violent confrontation, giving the Libyan revolt a more bloody character than those in Tunisia and Egypt. Within a few days one town after another slipped from the Libyan leader’s grip, from Tobruk, Darna, al-Bayda, Benghazi and Ajdabiya in the east, to Zintan and Zawiya in the west. After a brief hiatus, important oil towns such as Ras Lanuf fell to rebels advancing from Benghazi and pledging to march on to Gaddafi’s home town of Sirte and, ultimately, the capital Tripoli. One of the hardest battles was the one of the town of Ras Lanuf on the Eastern seaboard of Libya where days of fierce fighting by the Libyan Army and rebels took place. The ill equipped and trained rebels are made up of some well trained fighters but most of them have had no combat experience and only days or hours of training. That coupled with no real command structure and no commanders on the ground in the frontline means they have to rely on the numbers and courage. For days the rebels withstood daily bombardment by air, land and sea as they tried to hold onto the junction on the main road from Benghazi to Tripoli. Living off tuna sandwiches the rebels would fire aimlessly into the air with their AK-47s to try to shoot down the planes flying at high altitude. The most effective weapon used by the Libyan armed forces was the air strikes as they had a massive effect on moral and although they did not cause major causalities, they forced the rebels into retreat. Eventually after trying to repel the attacks by the Libyan army the rebels lost Ras Lanuf. This is a look at the battle for Ras Lanuf Junction.