Provided by Freedom Group
A dairy and ice cream factory in the port area of Misrata on fire amid a bombardment by Gadhafi's forces, according to information provided by the opposition Freedom Group.
msnbc.com staff and news service reports
updated 4/16/2011 8:37:22 AM ET 2011-04-16T12:37:22

A Libyan "citizen journalist" in the city of Misrata made a desperate last plea for international help late Friday, saying large numbers of people were dying as forces loyal to Moammar Gadhafi bombarded and fought their way into the city.

In a mainly Arabic-language message posted on YouTubea rough translation was posted by the Libya Al Hurra website — the man said "families, people are dying, no one is protecting us ... there is bloodshed on the street, all death."

"Misrata is calling, calling for help. I swear the sky is black (with) random bombing, Misrata is calling. Large numbers of people are dying," he said. "Where are you people?"

Sounding distressed, he said "my mental state is gone."

"I swear, my sister, yesterday, families, a whole family, two twin girls, girl, son, mother ... all shattered by Grads (rockets), the father is critically injured in hospital," he said.

"I am going to post this warning one last time ... Misrata is calling you! Please help Misrata! Where is Sarkozy? Where is Obama? NATO is doing nothing!" the man added.

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"Where are you people? Where is the East? .... I didn't know it was like this, why all this? Young kids, youths still in school, learning, are being killed," the man added. "Gadhafi is crazy, he is killing people."

The man is a member of the Freedom Group, which was able to film in the Qasr Ahmed port area of Misrata.

An activist serving as a media liaison for the Freedom Group said the man was a "citizen journalist" who "does not fight against Gadhafi with a gun, but supports the resistance."

Freedom Group posted a video on YouTube that showed a large plume of smoke rising across the city. The group said it showed a dairy and ice cream factory in Qasr Ahmed on fire after it was hit. The sound of explosions and heavy gunfire can also be heard in the video.

Gadhafi's men were in control of the city center, while the rebels were clinging to positions in the port area. Al-Jazeera satellite TV showed video of two armored vehicles parked in a debris-filled street.

100 rockets
An official rebel spokesman, Abdelbasset Abu Mzereiq, told Reuters by phone that Gadhafi's troops fired at least 100 Grad rockets into Misrata Saturday.

"They fired Grads at an industrial area this morning, at least 100 rockets were fired," Abdelbasset Abu Mzereiq told Reuters by telephone.

He said no casualties had been reported from Saturday's bombardment.

Misrata is the rebels' only major bastion in the western part of Libya. Pro-Gadhafi forces have laid siege to it for seven weeks after cities across the coast rose up against the Libyan leader's four-decade rule in mid-February.

Human Rights Watch said it had evidence that Gadhafi's forces were firing cluster munitions into residential areas of Misrata.

It published photographs of what it said were Spanish-produced cluster bombs, which release grenades designed to explode into fragments and kill the maximum number of people.

Another rebel spokesman, Abdelsalam, who is in Misrata, said pro-Gadhafi forces had on Friday also shelled the road leading to the port, a lifeline for trapped civilians and the main entry point for international aid agencies, killing eight people.

Video: On the front lines of the battle for Libya (on this page)

"Today was very tough ... Gadhafi's forces entered Tripoli Street and Nakl al Theqeel road," he said by phone, referring to a main Misrata thoroughfare.

"Witnesses said they saw pro-Gadhafi soldiers on foot in the city center today. Except for snipers, they usually stay in their tanks and armored vehicles," the spokesman said.

A government reconnaissance helicopter had flown over the city, he said, despite a no-fly zone mandated by the U.N. Security Council and enforced by NATO warplanes.

Late on Friday, an aid ship brought nearly 1,200 Misrata evacuees to the eastern Libyan city of Benghazi, just a fraction of those stranded and desperate to escape, an official of the International Organization for Migration (IOM) said.

Thousands await evacuation
Up to 10,000 people still needed to be evacuated from Misrata, IOM aid coordinator Jeremy Haslam said. Continued bombardment made it impossible to get into many areas of the city, he said.

"We threw out the textbook, basically. We couldn't get to the most vulnerable, those who need to get out fastest, because it was too dangerous," Haslam said.

Gadhafi loyalists have been firing randomly from their positions in the city, forcing people to leave their homes, said a city resident.

Once a building is empty, it is being taken over by government troops, said the resident, who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of retribution. He said government troops have also targeted groups of civilians in the streets, including people standing in line outside a bakery.

He said rebel-held neighborhoods are becoming increasingly crowded. "Now you can find houses with more than 10 families in one house," he said.

In the east, rebel military leader, Abdel Fattah Younes, said his forces were engaged in fierce fighting in Brega, west of Benghazi, and said he hoped he would have "good news" soon.

"We have people who are positioned at the entrance to Brega, they have cleared out some snipers. We've basically cleared out Gadhafi's forces from the eastern outskirts," rebel commander Jibril Mohammed Jibril said on Saturday on the fringes of Ajdabiya, the nearest town to Brega still under rebel control.

A rebel at the entrance to Ajdabiya said rebels were still being ambushed by government forces along the main highway linking the two towns.

Artillery fire was heard coming from the direction of Brega, but it was unclear who was firing, he said.

This story contains information from Reuters and The Associated Press

Video: On the front lines of the battle for Libya

  1. Closed captioning of: On the front lines of the battle for Libya

    >>> we turn, however, overseas now to libya, where our own stephanie gosk today managed to push further toward the front line of fighting between those pro and anti- gadhafi forces. and she discovered a side of the anti- gadhafi rebel fighters we have not seen before. her report tonight from the front line of the fighting on the road to brega .

    >> reporter: west offa ajdabiya the road stretches for miles with only the occasional reminder the war has moved back and forth here for weeks. rebel forces have advanced with help from nato air strikes . halfway to the oil town of brega , they group outside an abandoned gas station . but these are not just ragtag revolutionaries. here are units of professional soldiers who defected from gadhafi 's army when the uprising began. they say new, more advanced weaponry will be in their hands within days. we're at the last staging area before the front line . we haven't seen any of the new heavy weapon, but what we have seen are these new land cruiser pickup trucks. they tell us they have come from qatar.

    >> reporter: the gulf nation of qatar has also supplied new boots and uniforms. commanders say the rebel fighters are now finally communicating better with nato. today they knew not to push forward any further. new air strikes were expected up the road. a career officer says professional soldiers have started to control some of the less predictable volunteers. the rebels are still excitable, but we are united with them, he says. we are all the army. during our interview, a new attack. and then this. gadhafi forces firing artillery. in the last few minutes they have come under attack. we're seeing something we haven't seen before. they're not running. with help from the front line , the rockets position and fire. there even appears to be battlefield strategy. commanders up front are sending orders to the launchers in the back. spotters on rooftops look for government forces. incoming shells keep dropping, but the line doesn't move. it is by no means a match for what they face up the road, but it now looks like this rebel army is doing better with what they have. stephanie gosk, nbc news, on the road to brega .

Photos: Libya's uprising against Gadhafi

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  1. People gathering in Benghazi, Libya in mid-February of 2011 as protest against the rule of Moammar Gadhafi grew, in part triggered by the arrest of human rights activist Fethi Tarbel. EDITOR'S NOTE: The content, date and location of this image could not be independently verified. (AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  2. Buildings at the entrance to a security forces compound burn in Benghazi, Feb. 21, 2011. Libyan protesters celebrated in the streets of Benghazi, claiming control of the country's second largest city after bloody fighting, and anti-government unrest spread to the capital with clashes in Tripoli's main square for the first time. (Alaguri / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  3. Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi speaks on state television. Feb. 22, and signalled his defiance over a mounting revolt against his 41-year rule. (Libya TV via Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  4. Libyan U.N. ambassador Shalgham is embraced by Dabbashi, Libya's deputy U.N. Ambassador after denouncing Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi for the first time during a Security Council meeting at the headquarters of the United Nations in New York on Feb. 25. Shalgam, a longtime friend and member of Gadhafi's inner circle, had previously refused to denounce Gadhafi. (Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  5. Thousands of Libyans gather for the Muslim Friday prayers outside the courthouse in the eastern city of Benghazi on Feb. 25, 2011. Perhaps 8,000 people gathered for the midday prayers with a local imam, who delivered his sermon alongside the coffins of three men killed in the violent uprising that routed Gadhafi loyalists from Benghazi. (Gianluigi Guercia / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  6. Rebels hold a young man at gunpoint, who they accuse of being a loyalist to Gadhafi, between the towns of Brega and Ras Lanuf, March 3, 2011. (Goran Tomasevic / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  7. Pro-Gadhafi soldiers and supporters gather in Green Square in Tripoli, March 6, 2011. Thousands of Moammar Gadhafi's supporters poured into the streets of Tripoli, waving flags and firing their guns in the air in the Libyan leader's main stronghold, claiming overnight military successes. (Ben Curtis / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  8. Rebel fighters jump away from shrapnel during heavy shelling by forces loyal to Gadhafi near Bin Jawad, March 6. Rebels in east Libya regrouped and advanced on Bin Jawad after Gadhafi forces ambushed rebel fighters and ejected them from the town earlier in the day. (Goran Tomasevic / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  9. Libyan rebel fighters take cover as a bomb dropped by an airforce fighter jet explodes near a checkpoint on the outskirts of the oil town of Ras Lanuf on March 7, 2011. (Marco Longari / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  10. Libyan rebels fire rockets at government troops on the frontline. March 9, 2011 near Ras Lanuf. The rebels pushed back government troops westward towards Ben Jawat. (John Moore / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  11. Libyan government soldiers aboard tanks at the west gate of the town Ajdabiyah March 16, 2011. Libya's army pounded an opposition-held city in the country's west and battled fighters trying to block its advance on a rebel bastion in the east amid flagging diplomatic efforts to end the bloodshed. EDITOR'S NOTE: Picture taken on a government guided tour. (Ahmed Jadallah / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  12. Libyan people in Benghazi celebrate after the United Nations Security Council authorized a no-fly zone over Libya, March 18. Thousands of Libyans erupted in cheers as the news flashed on a giant screen in besieged Benghazi late March 17. After weeks of discussion, the UN Security Council banned flights in Libya's airspace and authorized "all necessary means" to implement the ban, triggering intervention by individual countries and organizations like NATO. (EPA) Back to slideshow navigation
  13. A picture combo shows a Libyan jet bomber crashing after being apparently shot down in Benghazi on March 19, 2011 as the Libyan rebel stronghold came under attack. Air strikes and sustained shelling of the city's south sent thick smoke into the sky. (Patrick Baz / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  14. Residents of Benghazi flee the city along the road toward Tobruk, in an attempt to escape fighting in their city, March 19, 2011. Gaddafi's troops pushed into the outskirts of Benghazi, a city of 670,000 people, in an apparent attempt to pre-empt Western military intervention expected after a meeting of Western and Arab leaders in Paris. (Reuters TV) Back to slideshow navigation
  15. Vehicles belonging to forces loyal to Gadhafi explode after an air strike by coalition forces, along a road between Benghazi and Ajdabiyah March 20, 2011. (Goran Tomasevic / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  16. A rebel fighter carries his weapon outside the northeastern Libyan town of Ajdabiyah, March 21, 2011. A wave of air strikes hit Gaddafi's troops around Ajdabiyah, a strategic town in the barren, scrub of eastern Libya that rebels aim to retake and where their fighters said they need more help. (Finbarr O'reilly / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  17. A Libyan rebel prays next to his gun on the frontline of the outskirts of the city of Ajdabiya, south of Benghazi, March 21, 2011. The international military intervention in Libya is likely to last "a while," a top French official said, echoing Moammar Gadhafi's warning of a long war ahead as rebels, energized by the strikes on their opponents. (Anja Niedringhaus / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  18. Libyan rebels retreat as mortars from Gadhafi's forces are fired on them near the outskirts of the city of Ajdabiya, March 22, 2011. Coalition forces bombarded Libya for a third straight night, targeting the air defenses and forces of Libyan ruler Moammar Gadhafi, stopping his advances and handing some momentum back to the rebels, who were on the verge of defeat. (Anja Niedringhaus / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  19. A Libyan man is comforted by hospital staff as he reacts after identifying his killed brother in the morgue of the Jalaa hospital in Benghazi, March 22, 2011. His brother was killed earlier in fighting around the city of Ajdabiya. (Anja Niedringhaus / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  20. Volunteer fighters training at a rebel army training camp in Benghazi, March 29, 2011. Pro-government forces intensified their attacks on Libyan rebels, driving them back over ground they had taken in recent days. The rebels had reached Nawfaliya, but pulled back to Bin Jawad. (Manu Brabo / EPA) Back to slideshow navigation
  21. Smoke billows as seven explosions were reported in the tightly-guarded residence of leader Moammar Gadhafi and military targets in the suburb of Tajura. Two explosions also rocked the Libyan capital Tripoli on March 29, 2011, as NATO-led coalition aircraft had been seen in the skies over the capital. (Mahmud Turkia / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  22. A Libyan rebel urges people to leave, as shelling from Gadhafi's forces started landing on the frontline outside of Bin Jawaad, 93 miles east of Sirte, March 29, 2011. (Anja Niedringhaus / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  23. General Abdel-Fattah Younis, former interior minister in the Gadhafi regime who defected in the early days of the uprising, is greeted by Libyan rebels at the front line near Brega, April 1, 2011. (Altaf Qadri / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  24. Libyan men show the V-sign for victory as they stand on the deck of a Turkish ship arriving from Misrata to the port of Benghazi who were evacuated along with others the injured in the fighting between rebel and Gadhafi forces, April 03, 2011. The Turkish vessel took hundreds of people wounded in the Libyan uprising for treatment in Turkey from the two cities of Misrata and Benghazi. (Mahmud Hams / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  25. A wounded prisoner from Gadhafi's forces is transported in the back of a pickup truck by rebels, on the way to a hospital for treatment, half way between Brega and Ajdabiya, April 9, 2011. Rebels say they took two prisoners after a clash with soldiers near Brega's university outside the government-controlled oil facilities, marking a noticeable advance by rebels. (Ben Curtis / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  26. In this image taken from TV, Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi makes a pubic appearance in Tripoli, April 14 2011. Gadhafi defiantly waved at his supporters while being driven around Tripoli while standing up through the sunroof of a car. (AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  27. A rebel fighter celebrates as his comrades fire a rocket barrage toward the positions of government troops April 14, 2011, west of Ajdabiyah. (Chris Hondros / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  28. Gadhafi supporters hold copies of his portrait as they gather at the Bab Al Azizia compound in Tripoli, April 15, 2011. Rebels held much of eastern Libya by mid-April, while Gadhafi controlled the west, with the front line shifting back and forth in the middle. (Pier Paolo Cito / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  29. Doctors work on a baby who suffered cuts from shrapnel that blasted through the window of his home during fighting in the besieged city of Misrata, April 18, 2011. Thousands of civilians are trapped in Misrata as fighting continues between Libyan government forces that have surrounded the city and anti-government rebels there. The Libyan government has come under international criticism for using heavy weapons and artillery in its assault on Misrata. (Chris Hondros / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  30. MISRATA, LIBYA - APRIL 20: Libyan rebel fighters discuss how to dislodge some ensconced government loyalist troops who were firing on them from the next room during house-to-house fighting on Tripoli Street in downtown Misrata April 20, 2011 in Misrata, Libya. Rebel forces assaulted the downtown positions of troops loyal to Libyan strongman Moammar Gaddafi April 20, briefly forcing them back over a key bridge and trapping several in a building that fought back instead of surrendering, firing on the rebels in the building and seriously wounding two of them during the standoff. Fighting continues between Libyan government forces that have surrounded the city and anti-government rebels ensconced there. (Photo by Chris Hondros/Getty Images) (Chris Hondros / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  31. Libyan rebel fighters carry out a comrade wounded during an effort to dislodge some ensconced government loyalist troops who were firing on them from a building during house-to-house fighting on Tripoli Street in downtown Misrata April 20, 2011. Rebel forces assaulted the downtown positions of troops loyal to Gaddafi, briefly forcing them back over a key bridge and trapping several in a building where they fought back instead of surrendering. Two rebels were seriously wounded during the standoff. (Chris Hondros / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  32. Rebels tread carefully as they prepare to invade a house where soldiers from the pro-government forces had their base in the Zwabi area of Misrata on April 24, 2011. (Andre Liohn / EPA) Back to slideshow navigation
  33. Libyans inspect damage and an unexploded missile at the Gadhafi family compound in a residential area of Tripoli, May 1, 2011. Gadhafi escaped a NATO missile strike in Tripoli that killed one of his sons and three young grandchildren. EDITOR'S NOTE: Photo taken on a government guided tour. (Darko Bandic / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  34. Moammar Gaddafi's son Saif al-Islam Gadhafi, center, leaves the funeral of his brother Saif Al-Arab Gadhafi, who was killed during air strikes by coalition forces, at the El Hani cemetery in Tripoli, May 2, 2011. Crowds chanting Gadhafi's name gathered in Tripoli for the funeral of his son and three grandchildren. (Louafi Larbi / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  35. Fleeing migrants and Libyans are seen on board an International Organization of Migration ship leaving the port of Misrata on May 4, 2011, as Gadhafi forces continued to pound the city. (Christophe Simon / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  36. Libyan men watch as the main fuel depot in Libya's third largest city, Misrata, burns following a bombing by Gadhafi's forces on May 7, 2011. Libyan regime forces shelled fuel depots in Misrata and dropped mines into its harbor using helicopters bearing the Red Cross emblem, rebels said as they braced for a ground assault. (Ricardo Garcia Vilanova / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  37. Libyan rebels celebrate near the airport of Misrata on May 11, 2011 after capturing the city's strategic airport following a fierce battle with Moammar Gadhafi's troops -- their first significant advance in weeks. (Ricardo Garcia Vilanova / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  38. Women react after a protest against Moammar Gadhafi's regime in Benghazi, Libya, on May 16, 2011. Luis Moreno-Ocampo, prosecutor of the International Criminal Court in The Hague, announced that he would seek arrest warrants against the leader of Libya, Moammar Gadhafi, his son Seif al-Islam and the country's intelligence chief on charges of crimes against humanity. (Rodrigo Abd / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  39. Tripoli street in Misrata is seen from the terrace of a building used by Gadhafi’s snipers before the rebels took control of the area on May 22, 2011. The weeks-long siege of the city ended in mid-May and Tripoli Street was the site of the fiercest fighting in the battle and a turnin point in the war. (Rodrigo Abd / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  40. A rebel fighter gives water to a soldier loyal to Gadhafi after he was wounded and then captured near the front line, west of Misrata on May 23, 2011. (Rodrigo Abd / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  41. An uncle, left, prays over the body of one and a half year-old Mohsen Ali al-Sheikh during a washing ritual during the funeral at his family's house in Misrata, May 27, 2011. The child was killed by a gunshot during clashes between rebels and pro-Gadhafi forces earlier in the day. (Wissam Saleh / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  42. The body of a drowned refugee floats near a capsized ship which was transporting an estimated 850 refugees from Libya, approximately 22 miles north of the Tunisian islands of Kerkennah, June 4, 2011. At least 578 survived the sinking. (Lindsay Mackenzie / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  43. A photograph taken from a video by a National Transitional Council (NTC) fighter shows Mutassem Gadhafi, son of Moammar Gadhafi, drinking water and smoking a cigarette following his capture and shortly before his death, in Sirte, Oct. 20, 2011. (- / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  44. A photograph taken from mobile phone video of a National Transitional Council (NTC) fighter shows the capture of Moammar Gadhafi in Sirte on Oct. 20, 2011. (AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  45. This image provided by the Libyan Youth Group on Nov. 19, 2011, shows Seif al-Islam Gadhafi after he was captured near the Niger border with Libya. Moammar Gadhafi's son, the only wanted member of the ousted ruling family to remain at large, was captured as he traveled with aides in a convoy in Libya's southern desert. (AP) Back to slideshow navigation
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Gallery: Gadhafi's children

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