Libya: Wyre Davies at nearest hospital to the frontline

Dr Suleiman Refadi Dr Rafadi says conditions are basic at best

Dr Suleiman Refadi is a British-trained surgeon who, with other doctors and nurses, is volunteering at the main hospital in Ajdabiya.

After having been pushed further and further back in recent days, anti-Gaddafi forces have now established a strategic and symbolic bridgehead of sorts at the western entrance to the city.

Most of the casualties brought to the emergency room here, the closest stronghold to the frontline in eastern Libya, are fighters or civilians caught up in the ground battle between pro- and anti-government forces.

But, said Dr Refadi, two days ago the first civilian casualties of a coalition air strike were brought in.

Seven people were killed, almost all children, including three young girls from the same family.

Dr Refadi said told me they had suffered catastrophic shrapnel injuries when a government military convoy was targeted by allied bombers in the small town of Zawit al-Argouba.

The doctor said that one 15-year-old girl had arrived at hospital alive, but with such terrible abdominal and head wounds that she could not be saved.

Conditions at the hospital are basic, to say the least.

Extreme pressure

Medical staff work under extreme pressure and with rudimentary equipment.

Nothing could be done to save the young rebel fighter who was rushed into the hospital later in the day. According to doctors, he had accidentally shot himself when he dropped his loaded Kalashnikov rifle with the safety catch off.

As his brothers in arms consoled each other in their grief, this was a tragic reminder that there is a real lack of discipline and organisation among anti-government forces.

Our departure from the hospital was delayed somewhat by a gunfight in the grounds - a couple of pro-Gaddafi fighters were apparently shooting at the building and everyone ran for cover.

The shooting soon stopped and we moved on but the dedicated medical staff staying on here to carry on their work do so in the most testing of conditions.

With their heavy machine-guns mounted on the back of pick-up trucks, the rebel army still resembles a disorganised, if enthusiastic, collection of individuals.

On the outskirts of Ajdabiya, new supplies of ammunition including rocket-propelled grenades were unloaded from a truck and taken up to the front line.

There, for the first time, one of their senior generals went to organise his troops.

General Abdel Fattah Younes, a former interior minister who defected several weeks ago, urged his rag-tag army near Brega to keep on fighting until Colonel Gaddafi was beaten.

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