Louis Proyect: The Unrepentant Marxist

October 11, 2016

The Battle of Misrata

Filed under: Libya — louisproyect @ 10:32 pm

(from “History’s Warriors”, an article about the Misrata militia written by Brian McQuinn for “The Libyan Revolution and Its Aftermath“.)

Yet it was dump trucks filled with sand that would turn the tide of the battle. While accounts differ as to which individual or group first conceived the innovation, the results were definitive. By the middle of April, Tripoli Street was impassable, blocked by huge dump trucks (parked by drivers who were often shot in the process), effectively cutting government supplies to the city centre. The weight and height of the vehicles prevented tanks from running over or pushing them aside. Additionally, the truck’s load of sand absorbed tank rounds, making them almost indestructible. A deadly cat-and-mouse game unfolded over the next weeks as Qadhafi’s forces brought armoured bulldozers to remove the vehicles, only to see them destroyed, blocking their sup-ply route even further. By the end of April, Tripoli Street was a grave-yard of vehicles. Starved of ammunition, food and reinforcements, the towering buildings occupied by Qadhafi’s forces became prisons. Over the next two weeks, Misratan forces slowly encircled the Insurance Building, using the mosques’ speakers to play Allahu Akbar (`Allah is great’, `God is great’ or ‘God is the greatest’)” continuously, boosting Misratan fighters’ morale and preventing government soldiers from sleeping. At night, cats and dogs were outfitted with flashlights and released onto the streets surrounding the Insurance Building to draw sniper fire. This tactic wasted snipers’ ammunition and revealed their position for counterattacks. Eventually, the futility of wasting further ammunition on a position so well fortified was recognised. The military committee demolished the first floor stairs of the building and directed battalion leaders to pull back, leaving the remaining government soldiers stranded. The remaining soldiers were given the chance to surrender, those who refused were left to starve. Misratan fighters continued to make advances along Tripoli Street throughout April and early May. Sand-filled dump trucks, and later, when these became scarce, ISO shipping containers, were deployed throughout the city, parsing Misrata into discreet neighbourhood zones. This, combined with the Tripoli Street blockade, starved Qadhafi’s forces of supplies, dislodging them from the city centre.

1 Comment »

  1. That’s incredible insight, amazing how the most unexpected things can change the tide of war.

    Comment by Jason Hopkins — October 12, 2016 @ 5:28 am


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