[Marxism] The Battle of Misrata

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Tue Oct 11 16:25:13 MDT 2016

(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.

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