A National Transitional Council fighter practices firing his machine gun, 20 kilometers west of Sirte on September 26
Fighters for Libya’s new leadership managed to take over the port in Sirte on Tuesday morning, a senior military commander in Tripoli said.
The seizure followed fierce clashes with forces loyal to ousted Libyan ruler Moammar Gadhafi in Sirte, Gadhafi’s hometown. The number and extent of casualties were not immediately known, the commander said.
The port of Sirte, on the northern edge of Libya, has exchanged hands of power recently. Anti-Gadhafi fighters have previously taken the port during the day and have pulled back at night.
The anti-Gadhafi fighters do not have control of the entire city.
Meanwhile, in the eastern city of Benghazi, members of Libya’s new leadership — the National Transitional Council — are set to meet for a third day to discuss forming an interim government.
NTC members previously agreed the government should include a premier, a vice premier and 22 ministers.
But an announcement of the new government’s creation should be contingent on wresting control of all cities from forces loyal to Gadhafi, senior NTC member Abdulrazag Elaradi said.
The meetings began Sunday, and the formation of a government could take up to a week, members have said.
The council said it will expand as cities are liberated to ensure representation in all regions of the country.
The NTC announced Saturday that it had advanced into Sirte following 24 hours of NATO aerial bombardments.
« Among the reports emerging from Sirte are executions, hostage-taking and the calculated targeting of individuals, families, and communities within the city, » NATO has said. The organization has also pointed to mercenaries being involved on the pro-Gadhafi side and civilians denied access to food, water and medical care.
The battle for Sirte has been difficult because Gadhafi loyalists have been using snipers and advanced weapons such as machine guns, according to the NTC military.
From Mohammed Tawfeeq
CNN’s Tommy Evans contributed to this report.