The rebel forces in Benghazi have their eyes set on Tripoli, contemplating military action to take the Libyan capital if necessary. But if that goal is to be reached, they must move westward. And smack in the middle of their path will be the coastal city of Sert, which is the both the birthplace of Muammar Gaddafi and the heartland of his tribe, the Qadhadfa. Expect fierce and fearsome resistance if the rebels attack. “This really is the heartland of the regime,” says Bruce St. John, author of seven books on Libya. “This would be a real prize for the opposition, but he clearly will defend it to the end, if he can.”
“There’s been a lot of money spent on that town since Gaddafi took over. It’s a very well developed place now compared to what it was 40, 50 years ago. It’s not a fortress by any means, but you probably won’t find internal disloyalty within the town that would create a problem for its defense. Everyone there is pretty much a Gaddafi loyalist,” says Andrew McGregor, a North African military expert with the Jamestown Foundation. Not only is the population of Sert considered exceptionally loyal, but Gaddafi has a large garrison stationed there. And there is an even bigger one Hun military base 150 miles south, which could easily reinforce the city or thwart rebels going south to try to circumvent Sert, a move that would bring them into open desert, making them vulnerable to attack from loyalist forces, says McGregor.