Libya NTC forces' assault on Gaddafi stronghold Sirte

Forces loyal to Libya's transitional government have launched a major assault on the city of Sirte, one of the last Gaddafi strongholds.

The BBC's Jonathan Head, in Sirte, says government forces have largely taken the town but are meeting stiff resistance, with continuing gunfire.

Some units are less than 1km from the city centre.

Thousands of civilians have already left Sirte but many more are thought to have remained behind.

Sustained tank and mortar fire has been targeting Sirte and there are huge columns of smoke across the city, some 360km (225 miles) east of Tripoli, with many buildings struck and on fire, says our correspondent.

This appears to be the final push for Col Muammar Gaddafi's home town, he adds, as the country has been unable to think about the future until Sirte falls.

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