In the remote mountains of western Libya, the rebels have moved beyond the 'rag-tag' militia label often used to characterize the opposition in the east.
Scott Peterson/Getty Images
Zintan and Nalut, Libya
This group of isolated anti-Qaddafi rebels appears to have learned from early mistakes, fine-tuning everything from fueling procedures to battle tactics.
Battlewagons smeared with sand for camouflage need a fuel chit from the local “military council” to collect gas. Defenses designed to thwart troops loyal to Col. Muammar Qaddafi are multilayered and include well-placed antitank ditches, earthen barriers, and preplaced trailers to block roads.
Food, water, and fuel supplies enter from a critical border crossing with Tunisia captured by the rebels on April 21. The medical infrastructure is so well honed that critical battlefield casualties are often whisked to Tunisia – sometimes along smuggler routes.
Unlike the rebels in the east, those in these mountains are rarely seen to fire their weapons in the air in celebration; commanders have pointed out that every round fired in the sky is one that can't target a pro-Qaddafi soldier.
Vulnerabilities on the battlefield
Video footage of one battle last week showed rebels engaged in a multipronged strike in which they captured a village, killed several Qaddafi loyalists, and suffered few losses.
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