Onboard the Turkish ship, the Ankara (source)
Ancient Misrata, a city of over 500,000 people before revolution broke out in Libya, is the last rebel-held city in Western Libya and has been under siege for weeks now by Gaddafi forces that daily and indiscriminately shell neighborhoods, while their snipers fire at anyone they want to within range of their rifle scopes. Gaddafi's armored divisions and ground forces had already begun besieging the city before the UN-imposed No-Fly Zone took effect, thus they were and are still too embedded in the city, as well as being able to hide and camouflage themselves during the day, for NATO-commanded jets to be able to alone break their siege. Since the No-Fly Zone was imposed, Gaddafi's forces have actually captured a portion of Misrata and are continuing to wreck havoc while attempting to subdue the entire city.
Gaddafi's wanton attack impacting the entire civilian population of Misrata, is, of course, a war crime according to the Nuremberg Principles, just as the devastating assault on Fallujah, Iraq by American-led forces in 2004, as well as the horrific Russian assault on Grozny in 1994-1995 were war crimes. One must ask why those who spoke out vociferously about the the latter assaults are not doing so now regarding Misrata. Deaths and casualties are, at the very least, in the high hundreds and more likely thousands now. It is very hard to assess figures accurately because it is extremely difficult to get reporters into Misrata, but doctors' and civilians' communications from the city indicate that Misrata is a sea of misery.
However, the city continues to desperately hang on to its recently-gained freedom from the Gaddafi regime, rebel forces fighting as best they can against superior weaponry and logistics, supplies being smuggled in as best as possible as well, while the citizenry is badly deprived of basic necessities such as food, water, medicine and electricity. Misrata is a humanitarian disaster at the hands of Gaddafi's military. Hospitals and medical clinics, some of which have been hit by sniper and shell fire, are overflowing with the wounded and dying, scenes eerily reminiscent of the Israeli war on Gaza several years ago.
Fortunately, because Misrata is a seaport, the government of Turkey, which has been deeply concerned about civilian casualties since the outbreak of hostilities in Libya, decided it was time to act, chartering a white car ferry called the Ankara , which was to serve as a makeshift hospital ship to take the most badly wounded out of Misrata. However, Libyan officials kept denying the Ankara permission to dock for days, until Turkey, fed up, ordered the Turkish Air Force and Navy to secure its safe arrival. Apparently Gaddafi does not want to risk a military confrontation with Turkey as well, so the Ankara was finally able to moor pierside and take on the wounded. Following are very recent accounts of these events.
LATEST AL JAZEERA VIDEO ON THE ANKARA MERCY MISSION:
NEW VIDEO FOOTAGE FROM THE ANKARA BY THE BBC:>
Excerpted from MSNBC:
BENGHAZI, Libya -- A Turkish ship rescued 250 wounded from the besieged Libyan city of Misrata on Sunday, but left behind thousands of people pleading to be evacuated, a Turkish diplomat and witnesses said.
Swathed in bandages, evacuees on board gave one of the most detailed accounts yet of conditions in Misrata, the last major rebel-held city in western Libya, and surrounded by government troops after rising up against Moammar Gadhafi in mid-February.
"It is very, very bad. In my street, Gadhafi bombed us," said Ibrahim al-Aradi, 26, who had wounds in his groin.
"We have no water, no electricity. We don't have medicine. There are snipers everywhere," he told Reuters.
Others spoke of Gadhafi's forces bombing mosques and houses.
"When Gadhafi's men hear the NATO planes they hide in houses and mosques. When the planes are gone they destroy them," said Mustafa Suleiman, a 30-year-old computer engineer. (FOR FULL ARTICLE CLICK HERE)
Excerpted from al Jazeera's April 3 Live Blog:
Accounts of those on board the Turkey-bound hospital ship are now coming through.
Mohammed Muftah, a 34-year-old Misurata resident with shrapnel wounds on his legs, back and neck, says:
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