"Sirt" redirects here. For other uses, see SIRT
)), also spelled Sirt
, is a city in Libya
. It is located south of the Gulf of Sirte
, between Tripoli
. It is famously known for its battles
, ethnic groups
, and loyalty
to Muammar Gaddafi
. Also due to its development, it was the capital of Libya
's successor after the Fall of Tripoli from 1 September 2011 to 20 October 2011. The settlement was established in the early 20th century by the Italians
, at the site of a 19th-century fortress built by the Ottomans
. It grew into a city after World War II
A square in Sirte (2007)
As the birthplace of Muammar Gaddafi
, Sirte was favoured by the Gaddafi government
The city was the final major stronghold of Gaddafi loyalists in the Libyan Civil War
and Gaddafi was killed there
by rebel forces on 20 October 2011. During the battle
, Sirte was left almost completely in ruins, with many buildings totally destroyed or damaged.
Six months after the civil war, almost 60,000 inhabitants, more than 70 percent of pre-war population, had returned.
Sirte is built near the site of the ancient Phoenician
city of Macomedes-Euphranta
which was an important link on the road along the Mediterranean Sea
littoral. It is the last confirmed place where the Punic language
was spoken, in the 5th century CE. The region had no recognized administrative centre and was infested for centuries by bandits. In Classical times, the coast was "proverbially dangerous to shipping",
called "inhospita Syrtis" in Virgil
's Paradise Lost
Book 2 lines 939-940 speaks of "a boggy Syrtis, neither sea/Nor good dry land".
In 1842 the Ottomans
built a fortress at Marsat al Zaafran
harbour") which became known as Qasr al Zaafran
"), and later as Qasr Sert. The fortress was built under sultan Abdülmecid I
as part of the restoration of Ottoman control over Tripolitania
after the fall of the Karamanli dynasty
. It was around this fortification, which was taken over and repaired by the Italians
in 1912, that the settlement of Sirte grew up.
Sirte served as an administrative centre under Italian rule.
During the North African Campaign
of the Second World War
there were no noteworthy events in this location, which was characterised at the time as "a shabby little Arab village of mud huts, clustered on the banks of a foul-smelling stream."
The village grew into a prominent town after the Second World War
for two reasons – the discovery and exploitation of oil nearby and the birth of Muammar Gaddafi
in 1942 in a tent at Qasr Abu Hadi
, some 20 kilometres (12 mi) south of Sirte. He was sent to the primary school at Sirte at the age of ten.
After seizing power in 1969
, Gaddafi transformed Sirte into a showcase of his self-proclaimed revolution, carrying out an extensive program of public works to expand the former village into a small city. After 1988, most government departments and the Libyan parliament were relocated from Tripoli to Sirte, although Tripoli remained formally the capital of the country.Al-Tahadi University
was established in 1991.
In 1999, Gaddafi proposed the idea of creating a "United States of Africa
" with Sirte as its administrative centre. Ambitious plans to build a new international airport and seaport were announced in 2007.
2011 Libyan Civil War
On 5 March 2011, anti-Gaddafi forces
said they were preparing to capture the city.
However, on 6 March, the rebel advance was stopped during the Battle of Bin Jawad
before reaching Sirte. Government forces launched a counter-offensive that recaptured Ra's Lanuf
and continued to advance as far as the outskirts of the de facto rebel capital of Benghazi
. Under United Nations Security Council Resolution 1973
, several Western and Arab countries then intervened with air and missile strikes, which turned the tide again in favour of the rebels. On 28 March, Al Jazeera reported that Sirte had been claimed to be taken by rebel forces overnight with little resistance,
but other news organisations later reported that rebels and Gaddafi forces were fighting on the road between Bin Jawad
By 30 March, Gaddafi loyalists had forced the rebels out of Bin Jawad and Ra's Lanuf and once again removed the immediate threat of an attack on Sirte.
In August, the city faced a more severe threat from the rebels as the loyalist position deteriorated rapidly, with rebels making gains on multiple fronts. As Tripoli came under attack
, other rebel forces based in Benghazi
broke the military stalemate in the eastern desert, taking Brega
and Ra's Lanuf
. At the same time, rebels in Misrata
pushed eastward along the coast towards Sirte, which then faced a pincer movement from the rebels on two fronts.
On 24 August, rebel units were reported as being 56 km (35 mi) from the city.
On 27 August, Bin Jawad – about 150 km east – was once again recaptured by the rebels. It was also reported that the National Transitional Council
were in negotiations with tribal figures from the city for it to surrender to rebel forces.
Anti-Gaddafi forces surrounded the city
during September 2011 and began a long, difficult battle
there, hoping to bring the war to an end. On 20 October, after suffering massive casualties during a siege that lasted over a month, NTC fighters mounted a major offensive and took control of the last remaining district of Sirte, "Number Two", that was in the hands of regime loyalists. Muammar Gaddafi
attempted to flee the city, but he was injured and captured by fighters. He was killed
in custody less than an hour later.
Sirte was left heavily damaged by a month of intense fighting, which was preceded by NATO
airstrikes throughout the war,
and was considered to have been subjected to the most damage of any Libyan city during the civil war.
Many homes were ransacked and looted by fighters, angering residents including those loyal to Gaddafi and those sympathetic to the revolution.
Many streets and buildings also experienced flooding as water mains were destroyed, though it was unclear by which side.
Landmarks like the Ouagadougou Conference Center, which became an impromptu fortress for the city's defenders during the battle, were ruined by artillery fire and blasts. A number of Libyan residents and fighters described the city as unrecognisable after weeks of siege.
In April 2012, almost six months after the civil war, more than 70 percent of the inhabitants had returned to Sirte. Rebuilding of the city started, although unexploded ordnance still posed a great risk to civilians.
In February 2012, some local residents said they felt abandoned by the National Transitional Council
(NTC), but the new government had promised to rebuild the city and Deputy Prime Minister Mustafa Abushagur
insisted this would happen.
Some local rebuilding was done in 2012 and 2013,
but reconstruction of municipal services did not begin until a 9 million Libyan dinars reconstruction project started in 2014.
Following the formation of a new Tripoli-based government, the Government of National Accord
(GNA), an offensive backed by the United Nations
was launched in May 2016 by GNA-aligned forces, known as the Bunyan Marsous
, to recapture Sirte.
After two months of advances, pro-government forces took control of ISIL's Sirte headquarters on 10 August 2016,
although pockets of ISIL resistance continued to prolong fighting through the end of the year.
Sirte was substantially under the control of the GNA by 6 December 2016.
A contributing factor to the recapture of the city were the over 400 airstrikes organized by the United States Africa Command
against ISIL positions during the months-long battle.
Approximately 700 Libya pro-government fighters and 2,000 ISIL loyalists died in Sirte between May and November 2016.
Mayoral elections were scheduled for 12 December 2016 with the previously (2015) municipal councilmen taking office again.
Second Libyan Civil War
GNA forces launched an attack
to capture Sirte from the LNA on 6 June 2020.
LNA forces proposed a ceasefire backed by Egypt
However, the GNA rejected the ceasefire as they entered Sirte. Despite this, the attack was thwarted the following day, which led to the LNA retaliating by conducting airstrikes from Mig-29s
on a huge Turkish convoy of military and GNA forces heading for Sirte, destroying it and resulting in heavy GNA and possibly Turkish casualties.
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Wikimedia Commons has media related to Sirte
Wikivoyage has a travel guide for Sirte
Last edited on 13 March 2021, at 20:43
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