Anti-Gaddafi fighters stand guard at an area that they have taken control as their forces capture main landmarks in Sirte
Anti-Gaddafi fighters stand guard at an area that they have taken control as their forces capture main landmarks in Sirte Reuters

Libyan fighters have overrun the last positions of the Gaddafi loyalists holding out in the city of Sirte, revolutionary forces said Thursday morning. With the colonel's birthplace now controlled by the National Transitional Council, can it finally say Libya is liberated?

According to reports from the scene, the final push to capture the remaining pro-Gaddafi positions began around 8 a.m. and it took no longer than 90 minutes for the NTC forces to finally control the last pockets of resistance.

"Our forces control the last neighborhood in Sirte," NTC member Hassan Draoua, told The Associated Press in Tripoli after Sirte's fall. "The city has been liberated."

The NTC forces also reportedly killed Gaddafi loyalists who had tried to flee the city by cars through the coastal highway.

The Libyan fighters are now searching homes and buildings looking for any Gaddafi fighters still in hiding.

At least 16 pro-Gadhafi fighters were captured, along with multiple cases of ammunition and trucks loaded with weapons.

Reporters present at the scene also said they witnessed some of the fighters beating captured Gaddafi loyalists in the back of trucks and before being stopped by officers.

Celebratory gunfire rapidly echoed through Sirte, as it took two months for the Libyan fighters to capture Gaddafi's birthplace, even after the collapse of the colonel's government and the fall of Tripoli.

Opposition against the NTC forces has been stubborn as Gaddafi men set up bastions of resistance throughout the country, preventing Libya's new leaders from declaring full victory.

Earlier this week, revolutionary fighters gained control of one stronghold, Bani Walid, but fears of further fighting emerged after Libya's acting prime minister said Wednesday he believes the fugitive former dictator is still recruiting fighters from other African countries and preparing for a possible insurgency to destabilize the transitional government.

"Reports have shown that 68 vehicles with at least eight fighters each crossed the Libyan borders to Mali and Gaddafi is hiding in the southern desert," Jibril told reporters.

Jibril also claimed Gadhafi had made a deal with the Hamada tribe, usually located between Chad, Sudan and Libya, to provide 12,000 fighters "to enter Libya and start the fight."

So with the capture of Sirte but with Gaddafi still in hiding and believed to be somewhere in the vast southwestern desert near the borders with Niger and Algeria and apparently trying to plan a counterrevolution, is Libya now finally liberated or will the next few weeks prove as difficult as the last few months?