The scale of the battle here may be small, but the importance for the future of Libya, and just possibly for the wider region, is great.
On Sunday night the rebels’ morale, which had previously been immensely high, took a serious knock when they failed to capture the small coastal town of Bin Jawad.
For the previous five days they had become used to brushing Col Muammar Gaddafi’s troops aside without much difficulty, driving from place to place for 150 miles (240km) along the coast road and capturing town after town.
In Bin Jawad, however, Col Gaddafi’s men used different tactics.
Here they are much closer to their power centre at Sirte, and it is easy to bring up aircraft and heavier weaponry. And, according to the rebels (though this remains unconfirmed), they used the inhabitants of Bin Jawad as human shields.
The rebels, by contrast, have long drawn-out lines of communication, and sometimes find it difficult to get fuel for their vehicles. If the allegation about the human shields is true, that made it even harder to attack the town.
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