Sirte: The Abandoned City

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As the battle for Libyan leader Muammer Qaddafi’s hometown, Sirte rages on, families crammed themselves into cars as they fled the city on Sunday, reporting a humanitarian situation nearing a tipping point.

The ongoing battle for Sirte, between anti-Qaddafi fighters and backed by NATO air strikes, has trapped people inside the town of about 100,000 through several fierce assaults over two weeks.

The chairman of the ruling National Transitional Council, Mustafa Abdel Jalil, said his forces had called a two-day truce to allow civilians to leave.

Hundreds of people, many of them women and children and the elderly, took advantage of a lull in fighting to make their way out of the city.

Cars waited in line as they were searched by NTC fighters to make sure they were not carrying arms or suspected pro-Gaddafi forces.

Meanwhile, aid workers from the International Committee of the Red Cross brought medical supplies to Sirte as fears grew that a humanitarian disaster was unfolding there.

ICRC medical staff said, "We hope that we will be able to go in as quickly as possible again because we really need to and we want to assist civilians inside Sirte and this hospital - the medical personnel and the war wounded. This is our role, this is our mandate and we want to take the opportunity to remind all the parties to the conflict to allow safe access for medical personnel and spare as much as possible civilian lives."

ICRC medical staff