Sources are The Guardian, LA Times, Al Jazeera, Washington Post.
Claiming interest in defection, government troops managed to lure Rebel forces into Bin Jawad just west of La’s Ranuf and subsequently defeated them. The Rebel feeling of invincibility has been destroyed, which is probably a good thing for the Rebel commanders trying to convince Rebel troops that command and control is necessary. As one Rebel soldier put it,
“Gaddafi’s cut us to pieces. He’s firing on us with tanks and missiles. I don’t know what we’re going to do now.”
Another Rebel, this one apparently a US Citizen perhaps following in the tradition of the Kosciusko Squadron,
“We got smashed. They are much [better] armed,”
Very unfortunate, but perhaps one should consider listening to his commanding officer in order to prevent such things? And the Rebel Commanders had better not be letting popular opinion amongst the troops play undue influence on the orders they give.
By my estimation, the sequence of events went as such:
- Government troops, stating intent to defect, invite Rebel troops into the city.
- Rebels approach the city, and are ambushed once close.
- Rebels withdraw, regroup, and attack again.
- Rebels attack is halted again.
- While withdrawing, rebels are pounded by aircraft.
- Artillery duel ensues.
Due to the soccer ball phenomenon I observed yesterday, the aircraft only had a few dozen minutes of free movement prior to withdrawing. There are claims being made by the rebels that they downed two Gaddafi aircraft, but no foreign journalist witnessed this or has seen the wreckage yet.
It is unfortunate for the Rebels that they where defeated, but hopefully this serves to encourage them to calm the hell down, organize themselves, and start operating under a conventional command structure. Such a command structure still leaves room for units along tribal lines, if that’s what the troops want.
To the west, as expected, Government forces have laid siege to Misrata. If captured, Government troops will be one city closer to linking up with the force that was defeated at Brega and Ra’s Lanuf and defeated the Rebels today at Bin Jawad. Parts of Zuwara are still in conflict, but I believe mercenaries have taken over that operation freeing up the Khamis Brigade for the Misrata operation.
From the Rebel perspective, the best thing for them to do is mourn the dead and dying in Zuwara and Misrata but accept the losses as unavoidable, fortify Ra’s Lanuf, and consolidate. The expected Government attack on Ra’s Lanuf will be a phenomenal opportunity to get some hands on training on delivering effective artillery fire into advancing enemy forces and conducting a successful defense.
Please feel free to comment and share your thoughts.