SIRTE, Libya – With NATO jets roaring overhead, revolutionary forces fought their way into Moammar Gadhafi’s hometown Saturday in the first significant push into the stubborn stronghold in about a week.
Libya’s new leaders also tried to move on the political front, promising to announce in the coming week a new interim government that it hopes will help unite the country.
However, disagreements remain about what the Cabinet should look like.
The National Transitional Council led the rebellion that forced Gadhafi into hiding and has taken over the leadership of the oil-rich North African nation even as it continues to fight forces still loyal to the fugitive leader.
The NTC-appointed prime minister, Mahmoud Jibril, sought support from leaders at the United Nations on Saturday, telling them that “a new Libya is coming to life” as a nation committed to democracy, equality and reintegration into the international community. He said the council was committed to drafting a constitution that would be put to the Libyans for a referendum.
More than a month after seizing Tripoli and effectively ending Gadhafi’s rule, revolutionary forces have been unable to rout well-armed Gadhafi loyalists from strongholds in his hometown of Sirte, Bani Walid and some southern enclaves.
Explosions rocked Sirte throughout the day as fighters pushing in on four roads came under heavy fire from loyalist snipers and artillery guns. Along the city’s main thoroughfare, they faced close-range gunfights with loyalists hiding in apartment buildings and throwing hand grenades at them from windows.
By evening, the fighters had pushed east along the city’s main thoroughfare into its urban center, overrunning a TV station and pushing loyalists farther back.