October 14, 2011: In Sirte (Kaddafi's birthplace), NTC gunmen retreated two kilometers from two residential neighborhoods in the northwest part of the city. These areas are held by several hundred determined Kaddafi soldiers who launched a counterattack. The NTC men had not bombed and shelled these two neighborhoods because of the civilians believed to be there. But now these residential areas will be reduced to rubble, like most of Sirte. NTC hopes to crush the Sirte resistance within a week, but many hardcore Kaddafi supporters believe they must fight or die. Some captured Kaddafi supporters have been tortured or executed, and this makes the remaining Kaddafi gunmen reluctant to give up.
The other major Kaddafi stronghold is Bani Walid (a town of 50,000, some 150 kilometers southeast of Tripoli). Here, the NTC fighters are proceeding more slowly. The capture of Sirte (population 100,000, 360 kilometers east of Tripoli) is seen as the key to "defeating Kaddafi." Once Sirte falls, defeating other pro-Kaddafi groups is seen as mopping up. Maybe, maybe not.
Kaddafi himself is believed to be hiding in the mountains and desert in the south, with the aid of Tuareg tribes that had long benefitted from Kaddafi generosity. Kaddafi considered himself a "man of the desert" (he actually was not, his family and tribe lived along the coast) and supported the Tuareg because they were religiously and socially conservative and were quick to rebel against authority. Kaddafi encouraged such rebellious behavior among Tuareg tribes in neighboring countries. Kaddafi loved to stir things up, except in his own country. Despite all this, there is a Tuareg faction in the NTC.
The NTC is still having a lot of trouble organizing a government. There are several problems. For one thing, Libya has never had a democracy, so this form of government is largely foreign to Libyans. They have heard of it, but never done it. Second, Libya is an artificial country. For thousands of years it was three or more separate entities. Unification came, via Italian colonial administrators, a century ago. That lasted until 1947, followed by two decades of monarchy, then Kaddafi's dictatorship.
Egypt revealed that it had recently captured men from five different smuggling gangs, who were bringing in weapons from Libya and trying to get them into Gaza (where Hamas, and other terrorists, will pay the best price.) Kaddafi had millions of small, and very portable weapons (assault rifles, machine-guns, mortars and anti-aircraft missiles) in warehouses (usually in military bases) that lost their security over the last few months and were plundered. These weapons will end up being sold throughout North Africa and to the south, causing an increase in violence and deaths. The U.S. has sent in dozens of civilian (but former military) arms experts, to track the weapons, get an accurate count of how many there are and seek ways to regain control of them (by persuasion, purchase or force.)
Islamic conservative groups have damaged Sufi shrines in Tripoli. The Sufi, like the Shia (and many similar groups) are minority Islamic sects that conservative factions among the majority Sunni consider heretical. This often leads to violence, as it has for decades in Pakistan and Afghanistan. Al Qaeda, and similar groups, are particularly active in going after "heretical" Moslems. The heretics often fight back, and most Moslems do not back the radicals. The NTC is trying to avoid a battle between Islamic radicals and the rest of the population, lest Libya suffer what Iraq, Pakistan and Iran are going through. The problem is that the Islamic radicals can often obtain enough popular support to sustain the Islamic terrorists for months or years of violence.
October 12, 2011: The NTC announced the capture of Kaddafi son Mutassim in Sirte. But there has been no confirmation, and by Friday, some NTC brigade leaders in Sirte said a few of Mutassim's bodyguards were captured, but not Mutassim himself. Today, NTC fighters spread into most parts of Sirte, using truck mounted anti-aircraft guns to kill or drive away snipers operating from buildings.
October 10, 2011:
The NTC has recognized their Syrian counterpart (the Syrian National Council, or SNC). Many UN members (especially non-democracies) opposed the NATO bombing campaign in Libya, and don't want the same sort of thing to happen in Syria. Such a trend would threaten the leaders of the many non-democracies on the planet. China is still a communist police state. Russia, while officially a democracy, has turned into an oligarchy run by former members of the KGB (secret police). Neither of these countries wants democracy to spread. Many countries have still not recognized the NTC as the rulers of Libya.
In Sirte, NTC gunmen seized key sites (like the university and some commercial areas) and Kaddafi supporters retreated towards residential neighborhoods where they kept their families.