March 28th, 2011
07:54 PM ET

A ragtag opposition army emerges in Libya

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2011/WORLD/africa/03/28/libya.opposition.army/t1larg.libya.opposition.army.gi.jpg caption="Libyan civilians turned amateur soldiers say they're united by one mission: toppling the regime of Col. Moammar Gadhafi." width=300 height=169]CNN Wire Staff

Just a month ago, members of the Libyan opposition army were civilians of all ages and from all walks of life.

Wesam, 22, was in college.

Ahmed, 32, is a husband, father and an engineer.

Adrees, 18, was studying business.

But now, they're amateur soldiers in the rickety rebel army of Libyan opposition. They say they're united by one mission - to topple the regime of Col. Moammar Gadhafi.

Since protests began in earnest in February, there has been no single, unifying figure in charge of the revolt. People of all ages and tribal affiliations have been taking part.

One man told CNN that when government forces began using live ammunition against the protesters, it turned the whole community against them.

With the rebels pushing west, gaining momentum and territory, a Libya without Gadhafi appears more likely by the day.

But whether democracy will follow is far from clear. Libya has long been a patchwork of tribes and rival sects, kept largely intact in the grip of Gadhafi's autocratic regime.


Filed under: 360° Radar • Global 360° • Middle East
soundoff (8 Responses)
  1. Bob

    Gadhafi has armed the civilians on his hometown of Sirte... The rebel army should disarm and not harm this civilians in Sirte. This process of disarming and not harming civilians actually took place in 1994 in Somalia, where American Soldiers set up check points, to check and confiscate weapons... Of course there are other techniques to disarm and not to harm civilians... This process of disarming and not harming civilians takes a long time... It is possible the rebel army may have to live a smaller contingent in Sirte, to disarm and not to harm the civilians and continue with a larger contingent towards Misrata and Tripoli...

    March 28, 2011 at 10:53 pm |
  2. Ronald

    Are the rebels,soldiers,because they are armed and if so, does the civilions who support Gadhafi who bare arms still civilions or do they become Gadhafi's forces? I believe that if Gadhafi arms his civilians this is the very definsion of a militia, there for they are combatants.

    March 28, 2011 at 10:14 pm |
  3. Annie Kate

    The American Revolution did not have trained troops or career military troops. Some of the soldiers had combat experience in the French & Indian wars but mostly they were farmers, merchants, laborers who got training on the job. Lack of training and what looks to be a lack of organization did not stop our Revolution – as long as the desire for liberty is the ultimate goal the lack of training & organization may slow the opposition down but I doubt it will stop it.

    March 28, 2011 at 10:10 pm |
  4. Tonino

    There are many signs in Lybia that will precede a Middle East Problem, where other regions will be affected. a general and very important sign is that he will come at a time when there is great confusion, intense disputes and violent death. When people are afflicted by disturbances and fear. Calamities will fall upon the people, so much so that a man shall not find shelter to shelter him from oppression. There will be many battles and fitnaas before his appearance. Every time a fitnaa has come to an end, another will start, spread and intensify. The people will be troubled to such extent that they will long for death

    March 28, 2011 at 9:00 pm |
  5. mohan

    I am extremely happy that America took the initiative with other world leaders to act swiftly when there was a strong probability of a genocide in Libya!!.. Honestly, I like the president’s speech when he mentioned America should not just looking at an international situation with self interest… Libyans should be so blessed to have the world come to their rescue before a “genocide” could take place….but sadden so very much as to why America despite all evidence, didn’t protect the Sri Lankan Civilians ( Tamils ) when Real/ Actual evidence of such atrocities were taking place killing and wounding over 100,000 innocent people……. At least the Libyans are safe ! … I don’t want any country leader to deprive nor kill their own citizens. …we know how it feels.!!!... Thank you America for helping Libians!!

    March 28, 2011 at 8:38 pm |
  6. Patrick

    That " ragtag army " that you mentioned was part of the insurgency that killed our troops in Iraqn and Afghanistan, especially when they came from Eastern Libya.

    One of your programmes last night showed a chart of all the insurgents from outside these two countries, and Libya stuck out a mile on it, by a mile! Why support terrorists?

    March 28, 2011 at 8:31 pm |
  7. alexander samuel

    look who is talking about, not to long ago president was blaming president bush put us with unnccessary war and put us on lot of debits. now after two years he put us in another was american has no business. more than 6 million people out of the job and has no food to eat this president making a big joke. i think we need to have no confidence vote like another country to impeach this rootless leader of ours.

    March 28, 2011 at 8:07 pm |
  8. Pamela Ewen

    O.K. you don't want to give them arms, (I think that you should), but why not, Flack Jackets, boots, socks, helmets. Wouldn't that be protecting civilians?

    March 28, 2011 at 8:04 pm |