Dutch news programme Nieuwsuur reports from Nalut, about the attacks the area is suffering, the professional training that revolutionaries now receive, and weapon supplies. He also, interestingly, says that as they understand, aircraft have been landing at the various small airports in the region with supplies, although people are unwilling to say which countries these airplanes are coming from.
Newsreader: “And now Libya, Muammar Gaddafi threatens with attacks on Europe as retribution for the NATO bombardments on Libya. In Libya there is now fighting on three fronts. Benghazi in the east is firmly in the hands of the rebels. In the surrounded city of Misrata, the rebels are withstanding despite continuous attacks from Gaddafi’s forces. And rebels now also hold areas in the west. A report from Nalut by Jan Eikelboom, Esmeralda van Boon and Joris Hentenaar.”
Reporter: It says “welcome to free Libya”, this is the border crossing and it’s basically possible to walk in uncontrolled. We’ve now entered Libya, it’s calm here but it is a crucial supply route for the rebels. It’s the only place, this road to Nalut, by which they can bring in food, medicine and weapons too and there has been heavy fighting here because of that.
Narrator: “The border may be open, it is not safe. Rockets still land near Wazin.”
Narrator: “Everything the insurgents need comes in via this route. Much of the aid comes from Libyans in exile.”
Narrator: “Even the road is unsafe says an insurgent guiding us. Gaddafi’s troops are less than 15km from here.”
Narrator: “The rebels hold the mountains; Gaddafi’s troops are down in the valley.”
Narrator: “The first stop after the border is Nalut, a ghost town. Shops, schools, offices, everything is closed. Practically no one is out on the street.”
Reporter: “Approximately 30,000 people live in Nalut, but the population has fled almost entirely for fear of the rockets that hit almost every day on indiscriminate places, like residences such as this one. And often even after the attacks the rockets still pose a threat. Rockets like these, for example, that have hit but haven’t exploded.”
Narrator: “The women from Nalut have fled. The men have remained to fight.
Commander: “Faster, faster!”
Narrator: “In one month the recruits are made ready for the frontline.”
Recruit: “I train here to free Libya from the dictator. We want to live in freedom in a civilized country. Gaddafi has abolished civilization and human rights, all of Libya has to do his bidding. But we want to be rid of this tyrant. ”
Narrator: “The new soldiers also go to school. They learn everything about the weapons with which they fight and they receive lessons in military strategy.”
Reporter: “The rebel army is less and less of a motley crew. The soliders now have uniforms and there is serious attention for training, not just outside but also in the classroom. Here they are being taught guerilla tactics.”
Instructor: “The enemy is 60km away.. Here is our army.”
Narrator: “A former colonel from Gaddafi’s army is in charge. He defected a month ago. Because his family is still in Tripoli, he does not want to be recognizable on camera.”
Reporter: “Why did you defect?”
Colonel: “Because of the excesses committed by the troops of Gaddafi in Benghazi, Ajdabiya and Misrata. Because of this misconduct I no longer want to serve in this army. I have seen too much injustice from this regime. I had no other choice than to leave the army.
Reporter: “Did many people defect with you?”
Colonel: “Not many. They are afraid, but deep inside, the majority of the soldiers are not with Gaddafi. I know the army very well, I know what is going on inside the soldiers. I think that 95% of those who have stayed, did so because of fear or because they did not get the chance to flee.”
Presenter: “Just before this broadcast I spoke with Jan Eijkelboom and I asked him first which impressions he has of the rebel area.
Reporter: “The most important impression is that life here has come to a complete stop, in this part of the rebel areas anyway, in Nalut. The city, as you’ve just seen in the report, is deserted and has turned into a ghost town but even beyond that all life has come to a complete, a really complete halt. The shops are closed, the schools are closed, the offices are closed and even more importantly the banks are closed. There is no money at all anymore, and because there is no money there is nothing you can buy. The whole population of the mountain region at this moment lives off aid supplies.
And often when you are in an area like this [as a reporter], there will always be one place where you can get something, one hotel where us journalists won’t have it too bad for example, but there is nothing like this here. Just like the rest of the population, we live off, because there is a shortage of everything, off bottles of water and packages.”
Presenter: “Yes, Jan, now NATO is also active in the west, what have you noticed of this?”
Reporter: “This afternoon when we were at the training of the recruits, we heard jets overhead. Nato, it was said, of course, those are the only planes that are left in the sky. So NATO is present, we heard heavy explosions this afternoon not very far from here. But it is not entirely clear yet whether these were NATO attacks or whether they were Gaddafi forces launching another attack on Nalut. One thing is certain and that is that last night at 3:30 this city was hit by several rockets again.
Presenter: “What you also say in your report is that the rebels now receive professional military education, we saw that, and the weapons also don’t seem like hand-me-downs, do they?
Reporter: “No, these are brand new weapons. Spick and span, we saw them come out of their packaging. For example this concerns a French anti-tank rocket, a rocket launcher, the Milan. The French themselves deny supplying them to the rebels, but we really have seem them in use here. We have seen training sessions. What we’ve also seen are brand new bullet proof vests, made in the United Kingdom. Although we cannot yet say whether they have actually been delivered by the United Kingdom. But there are countless other weapons that are brand new and they enter the country with surprising ease, I think. We saw at the border yesterday that not a single car is checked. Everything can drive through unhindered. All cars, normal cars, pickups, whole trucks, not a door is opened. As far as that is concerned, the Libyans are exceptionally grateful to the Tunisians, everyone says it.
There are also rumours that the weapons are coming in via air. The French have of course admitted that they have dropped weapons from the sky. But we also understand that on all sorts of small airports, aircraft from different countries have landed. People do not want to say which countries are supplying weapons. Either way around two weeks ago it was said there was a shortage of weapons in the Western Mountains, but now all the rebels are saying that weapons are not the problem. The problem is much more in the food, water, the medicines. For example in Nalut, we were in a storage facility today. They have supplies for another two weeks but after that they’ll run out and nothing has come in the past week.
Presenter: “Thank you, Jan, for your contribution from Nalut, Western Libya, Jan Eikelboom.”