I didn’t register where we were at first. The vehicle I was in stopped behind a building at the corner of a deserted road; on the other side stood a group of rebel fighters.
Hussein, the ambulance driver I was traveling with, is a calm man. But as he started muttering Islamic chants to himself, I realised that something was not right. La ila illa Allah (“there is no god but God”) and Allah akbar (“God is greatest”) betrayed his concern.
And then we sped forward, bouncing over the central reservation as the fighters opposite us waved us on, telling us to hurry.
I glanced left, and saw a familiar sight. This was Tripoli Street, and we were crossing it. To my right was the roadblock behind which I had sheltered from gunfire just the day previously. We were on the other side of it now, driving across a no-man’s land of bullets. I found myself echoing Hussein’s mutterings.
As we pulled into the safety of a side-street opposite, I jumped out to catch some frames of fighters running across in the opposite direction, to where we had just lunged out from. Their guns were blazing, firing aimlessly as they sprinted across the road. The pick-up trucks mounted with heavy machine guns are providing their cover fire.
“We have made some advances since yesterday” a familiar rebel fighter tells me. They have indeed. They are several blocks further towards their target, a building containing the “Qaddafi snipers”.
Over the course of the following hour, the rebels would assault this building with gunfire, rocket-propelled grenades and a deafening 106 recoilless anti-tank gun. The pick-ups would race out into the street, emptying their chain of bullets, and then speed back into cover.
Other fighters would take their place, brazenly stepping out into the street, emptying their belts.
I couldn’t help but think that they were suicidal.
Another group take me into a small building, where a hole from an incoming shell provides them with a glimpse of their enemy’s position. From the buildings corner, a group of three men peer around the corner through binoculars, before firing off rounds from their rifles.
The efficacy was questionable, but their desire was not. This was the battle for Tripoli Street.