Displaced families flee fighting in Sirte
Displaced families flee fighting in Sirte, September 29, 2011. REUTERS

Forces of the Libyan transitional government have launched what a frontline commander says is their final assault on the pro-Gaddafi stronghold of Sirte, after a two-day cease-fire.

Reports from the frontline described the battle as un-ordinated with rockets and tank fire coming from all direction and analysts have warned the battle could last for days.

Meanwhile the forces of the national transitional Council have insisted they have brought most of their artillery with then as they realise the longer the fight with the Gaddafi loyalists goes on, the harder it will be for the Transitional government to gain the confidence and trust of the Libyans.

However despite surrounding the city for days they have until now made very small advances so it remains to be seen what will they describe as the 'final assault' will be.

Sirte, Gaddafi's birthplace and one of his last strongholds has been surrounded for weeks, but a two-day ceasefire was declared on Saturday to allow civilians to leave.

Red Cross workers managed to deliver some medical aid to the city's main hospital during the ceasefire but fears of a humanitarian crisis are still important as hospitals are struggling to cope with the wounded due to a shortage of doctors and medicine and civilians have remained in the city.

Hundreds of civilians managed to escape from the town over the week-end, but humanitarian workers have warned thousands are also either unable or unwilling to leave as some are left injured, without cars or petrol, or just too frightened to leave their homes.

Monday, a International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) convoy tried to take some supplies into Sirte but was forced to turn around and head away from the city as it came under fire.

Reports by Reuters however proved the situation in Sirte is far from clear as while they cited an anti-Gaddafi commander at the scene, Ismail Al-Sosi as telling the news agency : 'The rebels secured the way for the International Red Cross to go but as soon as they entered the city they returned because of the (pro-Gaddafi) militias firing. We did not start the firing. The militias started the firing,' they also pointed out that the Reuters team who was on cite and witnessed the incident said they saw no incoming fire from the Gaddafi loyalists inside Sirte.

Meanwhile, in the south of the country the International Organization for Migration (IOM) is evacuating 1,200 African migrants from the city of Sabha, which was captured from pro-Gaddafi forces last month as fears regarding the treatment of sub-Saharan Africans by the NTC forces are mounting.

Reports say that a convoy of 15 trucks has left for Niger on the way to Chad, from where they will be transported home.

Talking about the organisation's operation, IOM chief of mission in Chad, Qasim Sufi, has said the group of people , who come from a total of 11 different nations were "extremely relieved" after being trapped at a transit centre in the embattled city.

Many Africans complained they were suspected of being mercenaries, and treated with considerable hostility by NTC forces.

Confusion seems to reign in Libya and with a new battle for Sirte set to last for days and maybe weeks, many inside and outside Libya and a humanitarian disaster once again threatening the lives and security of thousands of Libyans the NTC and NATO cannot afford for the conflicts to make more civilians casualties.