Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi is calling for fresh volunteers in a months-long war with rebels attempting to end his 42-year rule - and women of all ages are answering, CNN has learned.
Women from in and around Gadhafi's stronghold of Tripoli have been traveling south to a training facility in Bani Walid to practice with weapons, a common sight in a country where young girls receive military training in schools. As NATO's airstrikes crossed the 100-day mark and rebels continue to fight to oust Gadhafi, he is tapping everything and everyone in his arsenal to hold on to power, reports CNN's David McKenzie.
At the training facility in Bani Walid, women are training to "defend Moammar and the country," said Sgt. Faraj Ramadan, a woman who is training other women to properly handle weapons. "They train to use it, assemble it and take it apart, and to shoot," she told CNN recently. "They were trained and got excellent scores." Read the full story
The news of women apparently coming to Gadhafi's defense comes the same week that the International Criminal Court said it is trying to build a case against Gadhafi for rape as a crime against humanity. Earlier this week, the court issued arrest warrants for Gadhafi and two of relatives for war crimes. A Libyan woman Eman al Obeidy burst into a hotel in Tripoli popular with foreign reporters in April screaming that she had been gang-raped by Gadhafi's militiamen. Al Obeidy's claims were captured by reporters and broadcast around the world. Her story is among several reported by human rights organizations working in and near Libya.
Gadhafi's government has said it has armed more than 1 million civilians with weapons to fight for him. CNN cannot verify this claim.