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Posts Tagged ‘Tripoli’

Gaddafi supporters seize control of Libyan town

Posted by Admin on January 24, 2012

http://news.yahoo.com/gaddafi-supporters-clash-pro-government-militia-154008446.html;_ylt=AhIc1EcnpCwFnW12rs4nC42s0NUE;_ylu=X3oDMTQ1bGZzNzNrBG1pdANTZWN0aW9uTGlzdCBGUCBXb3JsZARwa2cDNjgyN2E5OGItZTY1MC0zNDU1LTlmMmItYzRhZGQ3YTgxNjcwBHBvcwMzBHNlYwNNZWRpYVNlY3Rpb25MaXN0BHZlcgM1NzE1MmJjMC00NWU4LTExZTEtOWJmNy0wMGI4Y2U4NDRkM2M-;_ylg=X3oDMTFvdnRqYzJoBGludGwDdXMEbGFuZwNlbi11cwRwc3RhaWQDBHBzdGNhdANob21lBHB0A3NlY3Rpb25zBHRlc3QD;_ylv=3

By Taha Zargoun | Reuters – 27 mins ago

TRIPOLI (Reuters) – Supporters of ousted Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi seized control of the town of Bani Walid on Monday after clashes with a militia loyal to the new government in which four people were killed, witnesses told Reuters.

A resident of Bani Walid, about 200 km (120 miles) south-east of Tripoli, said the sides fought using heavy weaponry, including 106 mm anti-tank weapons, and that 20 people were wounded.

Another witness told Reuters the fighting had now stopped but thatGaddafi loyalists were in control of the town centre, where they were flying green flags, a symbol of allegiance to the ousted administration.

“They control the town now. They are roaming the town,” said the witness, a fighter with the 28th May militia which was fighting the Gaddafi loyalists.

Bani Walid, base of the powerful Warfallah tribe, was one of the last towns in Libya to surrender to the anti-Gaddafi rebellion last year. Many people there oppose the country’s new leadership.

The uprising in Bani Walid could not come at a worse time for the ruling National Transitional Council (NTC). It is already reeling from violent protests in the eastern city of Benghazi and the resignation of its second most senior official.

An air force official told Reuters that jets were being mobilized to fly to Bani Walid. In Tripoli, there were signs of security being tightened, Reuters reporters in the city said.

FIGHTERS “MASSACRED

The violence in Bani Walid was sparked when members of the May 28 militia arrested some Gaddafi loyalists.

That prompted other supporters of the former leader, who was captured and killed in October, to attack the militia’s garrison in the town, said the resident, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

“They massacred men at the doors of the militia headquarters,” said the resident.

During Libya’s nine-month civil war, anti-Gaddafi rebels fought for months to take Bani Walid.

Local tribal elders eventually agreed to let NTC fighters enter the town, but relations have been uneasy since and there have been occasional flare-ups of violence.

In November last year, several people were killed in Bani Walid when a militia group from Tripoli’s Souq al-Juma district arrived in the town to try to arrest some local men.

Taking back control of the town will be challenging because it has natural defenses. Anyone approaching from the north has to descend into a deep valley and then climb up the other side, giving defenders an advantage.

It was this landscape, in part, that prevented anti-Gaddafi militias from taking the town during the civil war, despite the fact they were heavily armed and had superior numbers.

(Writing by Christian Lowe; Editing by Myra MacDonald)

 

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China urges Libya to protect its investments

Posted by Admin on August 28, 2011

http://in.finance.yahoo.com/news/China-urges-Libya-protect-ians-4025460516.html

Indo Asian News Service, On Wednesday 24 August 2011, 10:29 AM

Beijing, Aug 24 (IANS) China has urged Libya to protect its investments after a Libyan rebel said Chinese oil companies could suffer following the ouster of Muammar Gaddafi.

Wen Zhongliang, deputy head of the ministry of commerce’s trade department, said the information manager at the rebel-run oil firm AGOCO, Abdeljalil Mayouf, had said Russian and Chinese firms could lose out on oil contracts for failing to back the rebellion against Gaddafi.

‘China’s investment in Libya, especially its oil investment, is one aspect of mutual economic cooperation between the two countries, and this cooperation is in the mutual interest of both the people of China and Libya,’ Wen was quoted as saying by the Shanghai Daily.

‘We hope that after a return to stability in Libya, Libya will continue to protect the interests and rights of Chinese investors and we hope to continue investment and economic cooperation with Libya,’ he said.

China last year obtained three percent of its imported crude from Libya. About 150,000 barrels of oil per day – about one tenth of Libya’s crude exports – were shipped to China in 2010.

Yin Gang, an expert on the Arab world at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences in Beijing, said Abdeljalil Mayouf’s warning may not represent the position of an emerging, post-Gaddafi government in Tripoli.

‘This was one individual’s opinion. I can say in four words – They would not dare. They would not dare change any contracts,’ said Yin.

‘Libya is still in a state of chaos and hasn’t formed a government. There are certainly different views among the rebels,’ he said.

The Libyan embassy in Beijing has reportedly switched to the red, black and green flag of the rebel group.

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Gaddafi forces fire Scud missile: U.S. official

Posted by Admin on August 16, 2011

http://news.yahoo.com/rebels-tripoli-encircled-u-says-scud-fired-014925794.html

By Robert Birsel | Reuters – 46 mins ago

BENGHAZI, Libya (Reuters) – Forces loyal to Muammar Gaddafi fired a Scud missile for the first time in the country’s civil war, a U.S. defense official said, after rebel advances left the Libyan leader isolated in his capital.

Rebels fighting to end Gaddafi’s 41-year rule seized two strategic towns near Tripoli over the past 24 hours, cutting the city off from its supply lines and leaving the Libyan leader with a dwindling set of options if he is to stay in power.

The Scud missile was fired on Sunday morning from a location about 50 miles east of Sirte, Gaddafi’s home town, and landed east of the coastal oil town of Brega where rebels are fighting for control, the official said.

The missile came down in the desert, injuring no one, said the official, who was speaking on condition of anonymity. There was no immediate comment from the government in Tripoli.

In the six months of fighting up to now, Gaddafi’s forces have been using short-range Grad rockets but have not before deployed Scud missiles, which have an estimated range of about 185 miles.

The government in Tripoli has stocks of Scud missiles which were acquired from the Soviet Union in the 1970s, and some bought from North Korea, according to online defense forum globalsecurity.org.

It said many of Libya’s missile systems “are old and likely are suffering from maintenance problems.”

Analysts say the rebels’ strategy now is to isolate the capital and hope the government will collapse, but they say it is possible too that Gaddafi will opt to stage a last-ditch fight for the capital.

In a barely audible telephone call to state television in the early hours of Monday morning, Gaddafi called on his followers to liberate Libya from rebels and their NATO supporters.

“Get ready for the fight … The blood of martyrs is fuel for the battlefield,” he said.

REBEL PUSH

He was speaking as rebels made their most dramatic advances in months of fighting, shifting the momentum in a conflict that had been largely static for months and was testing the patience of NATO powers anxious for a swift outcome.

Rebel forces in the Western Mountains south of Tripoli surged forward at the weekend to enter Zawiyah. The town is about 50 km (30 miles) west of Tripoli and, crucially, straddles the main highway linking the capital to Tunisia.

A day later, rebels said they had captured the town of Garyan, which controls the highway leading south from Tripoli and linking it to Sabha, a Gaddafi stronghold deep in the desert.

“Gaddafi has been isolated. He has been cut off from the outside world,” a rebel spokesman from the Western Mountains, called Abdulrahman, told Reuters by telephone.

Early on Tuesday, rebels on the outskirts of Zawiyah said forces loyal to Gaddafi were still on the eastern edge of the town, from where they have been attacking with mortars, Grad rockets and sniper fire.

Medical workers at one of the town’s hospitals told a Reuters reporter that 20 people — a mixture of rebel fighters and civilians — were killed on Monday, and the death toll for Tuesday had already reached one.

PEACE TALKS

Officials in Tripoli deny Zawiyah is under rebel control, but government spokesman Moussa Ibrahim acknowledged on state television that rebel fighters were in Garyan.

“There are still armed gangs inside the city. We are able to drive them out,” he said.

A U.N. envoy arrived in neighboring Tunisia, where sources say rebels and representatives of the government have been holed up on the island resort of Djerba for negotiations.

The envoy, Abdel Elah al-Khatib, told Reuters he would meet “Libyan personalities residing in Tunisia” to discuss the conflict.

Gaddafi’s spokesman denied the Tripoli government was in talks about the leader’s departure, saying reports of such negotiations were the product of a “media war” being waged against Libya.

Talks could signal the endgame of a civil war that has drawn in the NATO alliance and emerged as one of the bloodiest confrontations in the wave of unrest sweeping the Arab world.

Rebels may still lack the manpower for an all-out assault on Tripoli, but are hoping their encirclement of the capital will bring down Gaddafi’s government or inspire an uprising. In the past, however, they have frequently failed to hold gains, and a fightback by Gaddafi troops could yet force them back.

Pro-Gaddafi residents of the capital remain defiant.

Makhjoub Muftah, a school teacher who has signed up as a gun-toting pro-Gaddafi volunteer, like many others seemed to think a rebel advance into Tripoli was a remote possibility.

“I wish they would march into Tripoli. I wish,” he said, daring the rebels. “They will all die.”

(Additional reporting by Phil Stewart in Washington, Missy Ryan in Tripoli, Robert Birsel in Brega, Libya, Ulf Laessing in Ras Jdir, Tunisia, Hamid Ould Ahmed in Algiers; Writing by Peter Graff and Christian Lowe; Editing by Jon Hemming)

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Blasts rock Tripoli as NATO targets Gaddafi compound

Posted by Admin on July 25, 2011

http://news.yahoo.com/blasts-rock-tripoli-libya-state-tv-says-nato-001357961.html

By Missy Ryan | Reuters – 2 hrs 31 mins ago

TRIPOLI (Reuters) – Explosions rocked central Tripoli for the second night in a row and Britain said weeks of NATO bombardment had inflicted extensive damage on Muammar Gaddafis heavily-fortified compound.

Libya‘s leader is clinging to power despite a four-month-old NATO air campaign and a lengthening conflict with rebels seeking an end to his 41-year rule and who have seized large swathes of the North African country.

The explosions hit Tripoli at about 1 a.m. on Sunday, a day after NATO launched strikes on what it said was a military command site in Tripoli.

Major General Nick Pope, the Chief of the Defense Staff’s communications officer, said Royal Air Force aircraft struck the high perimeter walls of Gaddafi’s Bab al-Aziziyah complex.

“Gaddafi has for decades hidden from the Libyan people behind these walls. The vast Bab al-Aziziyah compound is not just his personal residence, but more importantly is also the main headquarters for his regime, with command and control facilities and an army barracks,” Pope said on Sunday.

“Successive NATO strikes in past weeks have inflicted extensive damage on the military facilities within.”

As the war drags on longer than many had initially envisaged, the West is increasingly hoping for a negotiated end.

Libya’s government also appears willing to talk. Government spokesman Moussa Ibrahim said on Friday that Libyan representatives were ready to hold more talks with the United States and the rebels, but that Gaddafi would not quit.

Ibrahim said senior Libyan officials had a “productive dialogue” with U.S. counterparts last week in a rare meeting that followed the Obama administration’s recognition of the rebel government.

“We believe other meetings in the future … will help solve Libyan problems,” Ibrahim told reporters in Tripoli. “We are willing to talk to the Americans more.”

TOUGH FIGHT

On the cusp of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, poorly armed rebels seem unlikely to quickly unseat Gaddafi.

The rebels declared advances this week but they also suffered losses near Misrata and in fighting for Brega.

On Thursday rebels said minefields slowed their advance on Brega — which they had earlier claimed to have all but captured — but that they had pushed closer to Zlitan, on the Mediterranean coast 160 km (100 miles) east of Tripoli.

It was relatively quiet on the western front near Zlitan on Sunday, with some sporadic fire from Gaddafi’s forces. Most rebels were taking shelter from the hot sun. The forward field hospital had one wounded man on Sunday and 22 on Saturday.

“We are holding this position and waiting to move forward. God willing, it will be soon,” said Salim, a 21-year-old student and rebel volunteer.

Britain’s Pope said RAF jets on patrol near Zlitan successfully struck four buildings on Saturday, which NATO surveillance had identified as command and control centres and staging posts, as well as hitting an ammunition stockpile.

Apache helicopters also struck a number of military positions between Zlitan and Khums, he said.

Zlitan is the largest city between rebel-held Misrata and the capital Tripoli and remains in Gaddafi’s control. Were the rebels to take Zlitan, attention would turn to Khums, the next large town on the coastal road to the capital.

As Western nations intensify diplomatic efforts to foster an exit from the conflict, a European diplomat said that a U.N. envoy would seek to persuade warring parties in Libya to accept a plan that envisages a ceasefire and a power-sharing government, but with no role for Gaddafi.

The diplomat said the informal proposals would be canvassed by the special U.N. envoy to Libya, Abdul Elah al-Khatib, who has met both government and rebels several times.

Khatib, a Jordanian senator, told Reuters in Amman he hoped both sides would accept his ideas.

“The U.N. is exerting very serious efforts to create a political process that has two pillars; one is an agreement on a ceasefire and simultaneously an agreement on setting up a mechanism to manage the transitional period,” he said. He did not go into the details of that mechanism.

Hopes for a negotiated settlement are growing as Europe and the United States grapple with fiscal crises at home. This week, France said for the first time that Gaddafi could stay in Libya as long as he gives up power.

Complicating Gaddafi’s situation is the fact that the world court in The Hague seeks his arrest over crimes against humanity allegedly committed by his forces. This makes it difficult for him to find refuge outside the country.

(Additional reporting by Tim Castle in London, Nick Carey in Misrata, Jospeh Nasr in Berlin, Souhail Karam in Rabat and Lutfi Abu Aun in Tripoli; Writing by Lin Noeuihed; Editing by David Cowell)

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Libya in Pictures: What the Mainstream Media Does Not Tell You

Posted by Admin on July 25, 2011

http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=25630

by Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya

Global Research, July 16, 2011

Global Research reports from Tripoli

Mirage fighters, F16 fighters, B-2 Stealth bombers, 15,000 NATO air sorties. the bombing of thousands of civilian targets…

NATO is said to be coming to the rescue of the Libyan people. That is what we are being told.

Western journalists have quite deliberately distorted what is happening inside Libya. They have upheld NATO as an instrument of peace and democratization.

They have endorsed an illegal and criminal war.

They are instruments of US-NATO propaganda.

Global Research’s Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya reporting from Tripoli refutes the media consensus which uphold’s NATO’s humanitarian mandate. He provides us with a review of the mass rallies directed against NATO including extensive photographic evidence.

Forward this article. Post it on Facebook. Spread the word.  

Michel Chossudovsky, Global Research, July 15, 2011

PHOTOMONTAGE

For complete report on GRTV with extensive photographic evidence

 

VIDEO: This is Libya: On the Ground Scenes

GRTV Report from Tripoli
– by Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya – 2011-07-16


TRIPOLI. July 15, 2011. 

 



Friday of July 1, 2011 like many other Fridays has seen huge rallies in Tripoli’s Green Square.

It’s very hard to get an accurate number of the mass of people that have attended these rallies. Estimates have placed the size of the July 1st rally in Green Square at one million people. 

(See the GRTV Video report by ANSWER with Cynthia McKinney and Ramsey Clark)

The rallies have been taking place almost weekly in Tripoli and other Libyan cities, including Sabha on July 8, 2011.

Western public opinion has been misinformed. People in Europe and North America are not even aware that these mass rallies have taken place. 

The rallies express the Libyan people’s firm opposition to NATO’s “humanitarian” intervention (“on behalf of the Libyan people”). 

The large majority of the population are opposed to the Benghazi-based Transitional Council. 

The rallies also indicate significant popular support for Colonel Qaddafi in contrast to the usual stereotype descriptions of the Western media.

The mainstream media has either casually dismissed the significance of these public gatherings directed against NATO intervention or has failed to even report them.

These rallies continue late into the night. 

The following are pictures of Libyans converging on Green Square on July 1, 2011.

These pictures also show that the mainstream media was present and aware of these rallies. 

So what is preventing them from reporting the truth?

Why are some of these journalists claiming that only a few thousand people attended?

It is important to note that the pictures were taken at the outset of the event.

Libyans headed throughout the day into the night towards Green Square. Highways and roads leading towards Green Square were packed.  At the height of the rally, the number of people was signifcantly larger than what is conveyed in the pictures.

 


PHOTOMONTAGE 

For complete report on GRTV with extensive photographic evidence

 

VIDEO: This is Libya: On the Ground Scenes

GRTV Report from Tripoli
– by Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya – 2011-07-16




1. Western journalists position themselves on rooftops

 

People move towards Green Square

 

Libya’s Children: The Victims of NATO bombings

Photographs: Copyright. Mahdi Darius Nazemoroaya, Global Research 2011

 

Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya reporting from Tripoli is a Research Associate of the Centre for Research on Globalization (CRG).

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Waves of NATO aircraft intensify strikes on Tripoli

Posted by Admin on June 7, 2011

http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20110607/wl_nm/us_libya

By Peter Graff 2 hrs 27 mins ago

TRIPOLI (Reuters) – Waves of NATO aircraft hit Tripoli on Tuesday in the most sustained bombardment of the Libyan capital since Western forces began air strikes in March.

By Tuesday afternoon, war planes were striking different parts of the city several times an hour, hour after hour, rattling windows and sending clouds of grey smoke into the sky, a Reuters correspondent in the center of the city said.

The Libyan government attributed earlier blasts to NATO air strikes on military compounds in the capital, a day after rebels drove Muammar Gaddafi‘s forces out of a western town.

Bombs have been striking the city every few hours since Monday, at a steadily increasing pace. On Tuesday they began before 11 a.m. (5 a.m. ET) and were continuing five hours later.

Air strikes were previously rarer and usually at night.

Some of the bombs appeared to hit in the vicinity of Gaddafi’s vast Bab al-Aziziya residential compound.

A Libyan official, speaking over a loudspeaker in a hotel where foreign journalists stay under government supervision, said some strikes had hit the Popular Guard compound and the Revolutionary Guard compound, giving no comment on casualties.

A NATO military official in Naples, headquarters of the alliance’s Libya operation, confirmed the current strikes were the heaviest on Tripoli so far.

“Definitely there are more strikes going into Tripoli than there have been in the past … This is just to increase the pressure on the Gaddafi regime and it’s been going on like this for a couple of days now …”

“The targets we are striking are the same types as … in the past — command and control, ammunition storage, vehicle storage — any function or system the Gaddafi regime can use to attack civilians.”

Libyan TV said late on Monday NATO had bombed the al-Karama neighbourhood and a civilian telecommunications station.

NATO said it hit a military “command and control target.”

Further east, Gaddafi’s troops and the rebels have been in stalemate for weeks, neither able to hold territory on a road between Ajdabiyah, which Gaddafi’s forces shelled on Monday, and the Gaddafi-held oil town of Brega further west.

Rebels control the east of Libya, the western city of Misrata and the range of mountains near the border with Tunisia. They have been unable to advance on the capital against Gaddafi’s better-equipped forces, despite NATO air strikes.

DIPLOMATIC CONTACT WITH REBELS

But world powers are increasingly making diplomatic overtures to the rebels, including Russia and China — despite misgivings about interference in Libya’s sovereign affairs.

Mikhail Margelov, Special Representative for the President of Russia for Africa, told journalists in the rebel capital of Benghazi on Tuesday that Gaddafi can no longer represent Libya.

“We highly believe that Gaddafi has lost his legitimacy after the first bullet shot against the Libyan people,” he said.

“Russia is ready to help politically, economically and in any possible way … That is why we have established a direct relationship with the national council here in Benghazi.”

In Beijing, the Chinese Foreign Ministry said an Egypt-based Chinese diplomat had visited Benghazi for talks with the rebel-led National Transitional Council, adding to signs that China too is courting the insurgents.

China has officially declined to take sides, but its moves reflect growing recognition that Gaddafi’s days in power may be numbered, said Yin Gang, an expert on Arab affairs at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

Libya’s pro-Gaddafi Foreign Minister Abdelati Obeidi is visiting China as a “special envoy” for his government and will hold talks with his counterpart Yang Jiechi on “the situation in Libya and (finding) a political solution to the Libyan crisis,” the Chinese foreign ministry spokesman said.

French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe said in a statement that France — the first country to recognize the rebels — sees the National Transitional Council as representative of Libya.

“After being found guilty of the most serious crimes against the Libyan people, in breach of international law, authorities related to Col. Gaddafi cannot claim any role in representing the Libyan state,” Juppe said.

Spanish Foreign Minister Trinidad Jimenez will travel to Benghazi to meet rebel leader Mustafa Abdel Jalil on Wednesday, her ministry said.

ICG URGES CEASEFIRE

Western governments and rebels say a combination of NATO air strikes, diplomatic isolation and grassroots opposition will eventually end Gaddafi’s rule.

Gaddafi refuses to step down, saying he is supported by all Libyans apart from a minority of “rats” and al Qaeda fighters, and that NATO strikes are a Western plot to steal Libya’s oil.

In a report on Monday, the International Crisis Group (ICG) urged the rebels and their NATO allies to propose a ceasefire, arguing that demands that Gaddafi step down as a pre-condition and threats of war crimes charges had forced him into a corner.

“The (rebels) and their NATO supporters appear uninterested in resolving the conflict through negotiation,” it said.

“To insist that he (Gaddafi) go now, as the precondition for any negotiation … is to render a ceasefire all but impossible and so to maximize the prospect of continued armed conflict. To insist that he both leave … and face trial in the International Criminal Court is virtually to ensure that he will stay in Libya to the bitter end and go down fighting.”

In a sign NATO strikes may be aiding the rebel advance, the rebels seized Yafran, 100 km (60 miles) southwest of Tripoli, on Monday, after British warplanes had destroyed two tanks and two armored personnel carriers there on June 2.

In Brussels on Monday, NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said he would repeat calls for NATO allies to boost involvement at an alliance defense ministers meeting this week.

NATO decided last week to extend operations in Libya until the end of September.

(Additional reporting by Sherine El Madany in Benghazi, Youssef Boudlal in Yafran, Hamid Ould Ahmed in Algiers, Justyna Pawlak in Brussels, Elizabeth Pineau in Paris, Tim Cocks in Tunis, Chris Buckley in Beijing and Steve Gutterman in Moscow; Writing by Tim Cocks; Editing by Tim Pearce)

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Libya’s Gaddafi vows to fight to the death

Posted by Admin on June 7, 2011

http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20110607/wl_nm/us_libya_gaddafi

TRIPOLI (Reuters) – Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi vowed on Tuesday in a speech broadcast live on state television to fight to the end, after NATO intensified air strikes on Tripoli.

“We only have one choice: we will stay in our land dead or alive,” he said in the fiery audio address, calling on his supporters to flock to his Bab al-Aziziya compound.

Waves of NATO aircraft hit the Libyan capital on Tuesday, including targets in the vicinity of the vast Bab al-Aziziya residential compound, in the most sustained bombardment of the Libyan capital since Western forces began air strikes in March.

Describing planes flying overhead and explosions around him, Gaddafi was defiant.

“We are stronger than your missiles, stronger than your planes and the voice of the Libyan people is louder than explosions,” he said in his customary impassioned tone.

He said he was ready to unleash between 250,000 to 500,00 armed Libyans to swarm across the country to cleanse it from “armed gangs,” a reference to the rebels controlling the east of the North African oil producer.

Gaddafi was last seen on state television on May 30 in footage of him meeting South African President Jacob Zuma.

By Tuesday afternoon, warplanes were striking different parts of Tripoli several times an hour, rattling windows and sending clouds of grey smoke into the sky, a Reuters correspondent in the center of the city said.

“Whether we are martyred, killed or commit suicide, we care about our duty toward history,” Gaddafi said, demanding to know why the bombardment was continuing.

(Reporting by Joseph Nasr; Writing by John Irish; Editing by Andrew Roche)

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Fresh NATO raids target Libyan capital

Posted by Admin on May 28, 2011

http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20110528/ts_afp/libyaconflict_20110528083220

Fresh NATO raids target Libyan capital
 Smoke billows behind the trees following an air raid on the area of Tajura, east of Tripoli on May 24
by Imed Lamloum 51 mins ago

TRIPOLI (AFP) – Fresh NATO-led air strikes on Saturday targeted the district of Tripoli where Libyan leader Moamer Kadhafi has his residence, after G8 world powers intensified the pressure on the strongman to step down.

For the fourth successive night, powerful blasts rocked Bab Al-Aziziya near the city centre, an AFP correspondent said as Libyan state media reported air raids on the Al-Qariet region south of the capital.

The strikes came after US President Barack Obama told a summit of G8 world powers that the United States and France were committed to finishing the job in Libya, as Russia finally joined explicit calls for Kadhafi to go.

Russia’s dramatic shift — and an offer to mediate — came as British Prime Minister David Cameron said the NATO mission against Kadhafi was entering a new phase with the deployment of helicopter gunships to the conflict.

“We are joined in our resolve to finish the job,” Obama said after talks with French President Nicolas Sarkozy at the G8 summit of industrialised democracies in the French resort of Deauville.

But the US leader warned the “UN mandate of civilian protection cannot be accomplished when Kadhafi remains in Libya directing his forces in acts of aggression against the Libyan people.”

G8 leaders from Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia and the US called in their final statement for Kadhafi to step down after more than 40 years, in the face of pro-democracy protests turned full-fledged armed revolt.

“Kadhafi and the Libyan government have failed to fulfil their responsibility to protect the Libyan population and have lost all legitimacy. He has no future in a free, democratic Libya. He must go,” it said.

But the Libyan regime rejected the call and said any initiative to resolve the crisis would have to go through the African Union.

“The G8 is an economic summit. We are not concerned by its decisions,” said Libya’s deputy foreign minister, Khaled Kaaim.

Tripoli also rejected Russian mediation and will “not accept any mediation which marginalises the peace plan of the African Union,” he said. “We are an African country. Any initiative outside the AU framework will be rejected.”

Kaaim said it had no confirmation of a change in Moscow’s position after President Dmitry Medvedev toughened Russia’s stance at the G8 meeting by declaring: “The world community does not see him as the Libyan leader.”

African leaders at a summit in Addis Ababa on Thursday called for an end to NATO air strikes on Libya to pave the way for a political solution to the conflict.

The pan-African bloc also sought a stronger say in resolving the conflict.

Kaaim meanwhile confirmed the visit on Monday of South African President Jacob Zuma, without indicating whether the exit of Kadhafi from power would be discussed as the South Africans have claimed.

On Thursday, the Libyan regime said Tripoli wanted a monitored ceasefire.

But NATO insisted it would keep up its air raids in Libya until Kadhafi’s forces stop attacking civilians and until the regime’s proposed ceasefire is matched by its actions on the ground.

Meanwhile Kadhafi’s wife Sofia on Friday slammed strikes against the Libyan leader and his family, and accused NATO forces of “committing war crimes” with its action against the regime.

Arab League chief Amr Mussa said there was a yawning gap between Tripoli and the rebel National Transitional Council on Kadhafi’s fate, with the rebels demanding he go immediately and the regime saving his exit for “later.”

“I was not there. But I wished that I was so I may die with him,” she told CNN in a telephone interview, describing the reported death of her son Seif al-Arab from a NATO air strike.

“My son never missed an evening prayer. We had strikes every day, and the strikes would start at evening prayer. Four rockets on one house!” she said in the rare interview.

International forces, which have been attacking Kadhafi forces under the terms of a UN resolution to protect civilians, “are looking for excuses to target Moamer. What has he done to deserve this?” asked Sofia.

NATO, she said, is “committing war crimes” in the North Africa country.

“They killed my son and the Libyan people. They are defaming our reputation, she said.

“Forty countries are against us. Life has no value anymore,” she lamented, in the wake of her son’s death.

Doubts have been raised in recent days of the veracity of reports on Seif al-Arab, Kadhafi’s youngest son, being dead.

Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi pointed out Wednesday that the international coalition had no information on his demise, and said the report from a Libyan government spokesman was “propaganda.”

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Gaddafi, Lies and Video Tape: Libya and the Rumor Mill

Posted by Admin on May 15, 2011

http://news.yahoo.com/s/time/20110514/wl_time/08599207152300;_ylt=Ar_gdLahkMDjCxsglLEGEilvaA8F;_ylu=X3oDMTJtMjUxODRmBGFzc2V0A3RpbWUvMjAxMTA1MTQvMDg1OTkyMDcxNTIzMDAEcG9zAzI5BHNlYwN5bl9hcnRpY2xlX3N1bW1hcnlfbGlzdARzbGsDZ2FkZGFmaWxpZXNh

Truth, as they say, is the first casualty of war. Yet even by those measures, the three-month Libyan conflict has brought a wealth of rumors.

Just five days after the revolt erupted in Benghazi, British Foreign Secretary William Hague told reporters that Gaddafi was headed to Venezuela. His remarks sparked a media frenzy, with journalists converging on Caracas to await Gaddafi’s arrival in exile. Three days later, on Feb. 24, commodities traders said that oil and gold prices had dropped due to rumors that Gaddafi had been injured. Oil prices dropped again on March 7, after rumors that Gaddafi was scrambling to negotiate an exile deal for himself. And on March 21, days after Western fighter jets began bombing Tripoli, a German newspaper reported that a rocket attack had killed Gaddafi’s son Khamis, whose military brigade has led the assault against Libyan rebels. So far, none of the rumors have proved true. (See TIME’s exclusive photos on the ground in Tripoli.)

The latest tale surfaced last Friday, when Italy’s Foreign Minister Franco Frattini told an Italian reporter that Muammar Gaddafi had fled Tripoli after being wounded in a NATO air strike on his compound the day before. Frattini said he heard the information from Tripoli’s Catholic Bishop Giovanni Martinelli, a Libyan-born Italian with close sources across the capital, thanks to his decades in the country. The Bishop, said Frattini, had said that “international pressure has apparently provoked a decision by Gaddafi to seek refuge in a safer place.”

The rumor lit up Twitter feeds and led to a few celebrations – premature ones. Within hours, Gaddafi went on state-run Libyan Television to tell his supporters that he was still alive, and to vow to survive the NATO campaign. “I live where you cannot reach and cannot kill me – in the hearts of millions of people,” Gaddafi said in a defiant challenge to the coalition. Bishop Martinelli denied the story Frattini attributed to him, telling a French radio station on Saturday that “I’ve never said he [Gaddafi] was injured or had left Tripoli.” (Watch Libya’s ragtag rebels in action.)

The speech included no video. An unnamed regime official told the Guardian newspaper on Saturday that Gaddafi was worried that video footage could help NATO bombers to pinpoint his exact whereabouts. Gaddafi’s statement on Friday was a stark contrast to his wartime television appearances, where he has summoned television crews to film him giving thundering diatribes against the rebels and Western governments. And unlike those hours-long speeches, he spoke for just 90 seconds, igniting speculation among rebel and exile groups that Gaddafi had indeed gone to ground.

Wounded or not, Gaddafi may soon have a legal reason to be out of sight. On Saturday, the International Criminal Court‘s prosecutor Luis Moreno Ocampo told a Spanish newspaper that he would seek arrest warrants for Gaddafi, his son Saif al-Islam, and his intelligence chief Abdullah Senoussi, when he goes before a judges’ panel in The Hague on Monday. If the warrants are issued, the three men would face extradition orders to stand trial in Holland, for having ordered security forces to open fire on unarmed demonstrators in Benghazi in mid-February. U.N. investigators claim that between 400 and 600 Libyans were killed in the first days of the revolt, before the rebels took up weapons, transforming the protest movement into a civil war.

Bringing Gaddafi and company to justice is going to be a tall order. But a warrant and NATO bombs are enough reasons for anyone to go into hiding.

See TIME’s photos of Gaddafi’s Tripoli.

See TIME’s special report “The Middle East in Revolt.”

View this article on Time.com

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West moves to help Libya uprising, Gadhafi digs in

Posted by Admin on February 28, 2011

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20110228/ap_on_re_af/af_libya

TRIPOLI, Libya – The U.S. military deployed naval and air units near Libya, and the West moved to send its first concrete aid to Libya’s rebellion in the east of the country, hoping to give it the momentum to oust Moammar Gadhafi. But the Libyan leader’s regime clamped down in its stronghold in the capital and appeared to be maneuvering to strike opposition-held cities.

In Washington, Defense Department spokesman Col. Dave Lapan said the naval and air forces were deployed to have flexibility as Pentagon planners worked on contingency plans, but did not elaborate. The U.S. has a regular military presence in the Mediterranean Sea.

The European Union slapped an arms embargo, visa ban and other sanctions on Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi’s regime, as British Prime Minister David Cameron told British lawmakers Monday he is working with allies on a plan to establish a military no-fly zone over Libya, since “we do not in any way rule out the use of military assets” to deal with Gadhafi’s embattled regime.

In the most direct U.S. demand for Gadhafi to step down, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said the Libyan leader must leave power “now, without further violence or delay.”

France was sending two planes with humanitarian aid, including medicine and doctors, to Benghazi, the opposition stronghold in eastern Libya, French Prime Minister Francois Fillon said. That would be the first direct Western aid to the uprising that has taken control of the entire eastern half of Libya. Fillon said it was the start of a “massive operation of humanitarian support” for the east and that Paris was studying “all solutions” — including military options.

The two sides in Libya’s crisis appeared entrenched in their positions, and the direction the uprising takes next could depend on which can hold out longest. Gadhafi is dug in in Tripoli and nearby cities, backed by security forces and militiamen who are generally better armed than the military. His opponents, holding the east and much of the country’s oil infrastructure, also have pockets in western Libya near Tripoli. They are backed by mutinous army units, but those forces appear to have limited supplies of ammunition and weapons.

In the two opposition-held cities closest to Tripoli — Zawiya and Misrata — rebel forces were locked in standoffs with Gadhafi loyalists.

An Associated Press reporter saw a large pro-Gadhafi force massed on the western edge of Zawiya, some 30 miles (50 kilometers) west of Tripoli, with about a dozen armored vehicles and tanks and jeeps mounted with anti-aircraft guns. An officer said they were from the elite Khamis Brigade, named after the Gadhafi son who commands it. U.S. diplomats have said the brigade is the best equipped force in Libya.

Residents inside the city said they were anticipating a possible attack.

“Our people are waiting for them to come and, God willing, we will defeat them,” one resident who only wanted to be quoted by his first name, Alaa, told AP in Cairo by telephone.

In Misrata, Libya’s third largest city 125 miles (200 kilometers) east of Tripoli, Gadhafi troops who control part of an air base on the city’s outskirts tried to advance Monday. But they were repelled by opposition forces, who include residents armed with automatic weapons and army unites allied with them, one of the opposition fighters said.

He said there were no casualties reported in the clashes and claimed that his side had captured eight soldiers, including a senior officer.

The opposition controls most of the air base, and the fighter said dozens of anti-Gadhafi gunmen have arrived from further east in recent days as reinforcements.

Several residents of the eastern city of Ajdabiya said Gadhafi’s air force also bombed an ammunition depot nearby held by the opposition. One, 17-year-old Abdel-Bari Zwei, reported intermittent explosions and a fire, and another, Faraj al-Maghrabi, said the facility was partially damaged. The site contains bombs, missiles and ammunition — key for the undersupplied opposition military forces.

State TV carried a statement by Libya’s Defense Ministry denying any attempt to bomb the depot. Ajdabiya lies about 450 miles (750 kilometers) east of Tripoli along the Mediterranean coast.

Gadhafi opponents have moved to consolidate their hold in the east, centered on Benghazi — Libya’s second largest city, where the uprising began. Politicians there on Sunday set up their first leadership council to manage day-to-day affairs, taking a step toward forming what could be an alternative to Gadhafi’s regime.

The opposition is backed by numerous units of the military in the east that joined the uprising, and they hold several bases and Benghazi’s airport. But so far, the units do not appear to have melded into a unified fighting force. Gadhafi long kept the military weak, fearing a challenge to his rule, so many units are plagued by shortages of supplies and ammunition.

Gadhafi supporters said Monday that they were in control of the city of Sabratha, west of Tripoli, which has seemed to go back and forth between the two camps the past week. Several residents told The Associated Press that protesters set fire to a police station, but then were dispersed. Anti-Gadhafi graffiti — “Down with the enemy of freedom” and “Libya is free, Gadhafi must leave” — were scrawled on some walls, but residents were painting them over.

In the capital, several hundred protesters started a march in the eastern district of Tajoura, which has been the scene of frequent clashes. After the burial of a person killed in gunfire last week, mourners began to march down a main street, chanting against the Libyan leader and waving the flag of Libya’s pre-Gadhafi monarchy, which has become a symbol of the uprising, a witness said.

But they quickly dispersed once a brigade of pro-Gadhafi fighters rushed to the scene, scattering before the gunmen could fire a shot, the witness said. He and other residents in the capital spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of retaliation.

There were attempts to restore aspects of normalcy in the capital, residents said. Many stores downtown reopened, and traffic in the streets increased.

Tripoli was in turmoil on Friday, when residents said gunmen opened fire indiscriminately on protesters holding new marches. But since then, the capital has been quiet — especially since foreign journalists invited by Gadhafi’s regime to view the situation arrived Friday.

Long lines formed outside banks in the capital by Libyans wanting to receive the equivalent of $400 per family that Gadhafi pledged in a bid to shore up public loyalty.

One resident said pro-Gadhafi security forces man checkpoints around the city of 2 million and prowl the city for any sign of unrest. She told The Associated Press that the price of rice, a main staple, has gone up 500 percent amid the crisis, reaching the equivalent of $40 for a five-kilogram (10-pound) bag.

Bakeries are limited to selling five loaves of bread per family, and most butcher shops are closed, she said.

Some schools reopened, but only for a half day and attendance was low. “My kids are too afraid to leave home and they even sleep next to me at night,” said Sidiq al-Damjah, 41 and father of three. “I feel like I’m living a nightmare.”

Gadhafi has launched by far the bloodiest crackdown in a wave of anti-government uprisings sweeping the Arab world, the most serious challenge to his four decades in power. The United States, Britain and the U.N. Security Council all slapped sanctions on Libya this weekend.

In Geneva, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton was meeting Monday with foreign ministers from Britain, France, Germany and Italy, pressing for tough sanctions on the Libyan government. A day earlier, Clinton kept up pressure for Gadhafi to step down and “call off the mercenaries” and other troops that remain loyal to him.

“We’ve been reaching out to many different Libyans who are attempting to organize in the east and as the revolution moves westward there as well,” Clinton said. “I think it’s way too soon to tell how this is going to play out, but we’re going to be ready and prepared to offer any kind of assistance that anyone wishes to have from the United States.”

Two U.S. senators said Washington should recognize and arm a provisional government in rebel-held areas of eastern Libya and impose a no-fly zone over the area — enforced by U.S. warplanes — to stop attacks by the regime. But Fillon said a no-fly zone needed U.N. support “which is far from being obtained today.”

Sabratha, 40 miles (65 kilometers) west of Tripoli — a city known for nearby Roman ruins — showed signs of the tug-of-war between the two camps. On Monday, when the journalists invited to Libya by the government visited, many people were lined up at banks to collect their $400. When they saw journalists, they chanted, “God, Moammar and Libya.”

Ali Mohammed, a leader from the Alalqa tribe, the main tribe in the area, said in previous days Gadhafi opponents burned the main police station, an Internal Security office and the People’s Hall, where the local administration meets. “I then held a meeting with the protesters to stop these acts the people said they will control their children and since then there has been no problems,” he said.

“The thugs and rats were roaming the streets and they attacked the police station and then they disappeared,” said resident Taher Ali, who was collecting his $400. “They are rats and thugs. We are all with Moammar.”

An anti-Gadhafi activist in Sabratha told The Associated Press in Cairo by telephone that the opposition raided the police station and security offices last week for weapons, and had dominated parts of city. But then on Sunday, a large force of pro-Gadhafi troops deployed in the city, “so we withdrew,” he said.

“The city is not controlled by us or them. There are still skirmishes going on,” he said.

In Tripoli, a government spokesman blamed the West and Islamic militants for the upheaval, saying they had hijacked and escalated what he said began as “genuine” but small protests demanding “legitimate aand much needed political improvements.”

“On one hand, Islamists love to see chaos … this is paradise for them,” he said. “The West wants chaos to give them reason to intervene militarily to control the oil.”

“The Islamists want Libya to be their Afghanistan … to complete their crescent of terror,” he said. “This is not the first time the Islamic militants and the west find common cause.”

___

AP correspondents Hamza Hendawi, Bassem Mroue and Ben Hubbard in Cairo, and Angela Charlton in Paris contributed to this report.

 

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Gun battles rage as rebels seize Libyan towns

Posted by Admin on February 24, 2011

A protester covers his face with a Libyan flag ...
A Protester covering his face with the Libyan Flag
By Alexander Dziadosz Alexander Dziadosz 23 mins ago

BENGHAZI, Libya (Reuters) – Forces loyal to Muammar Gaddafi launched a fierce counter-attack on Thursday, fighting gun battles with rebels who have threatened the Libyan leader by seizing important towns close to the capital.

The opposition were already in control of major centers in the east, including the regional capital Benghazi, and reports that the towns of Misrata and Zuara in the west had also fallen brought the tide of rebellion closer to Gaddafi’s power base.

Gun battles in Zawiyah, an oil terminal 50 km (30 miles) from the capital, left 10 people dead, a Libyan newspaper said.

France’s top human rights official said up to 2,000 people might have died so far in the uprising.

In a rambling appeal for calm, Gaddafi blamed the revolt on al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, and said the protesters were fueled by milk and Nescafe spiked with hallucinogenic drugs,

Gaddafi, who just two days ago vowed in a televised address to crush the revolt and fight to the last, showed none of the fist-thumping rage of that speech.

This time, he spoke to state television by telephone without appearing in person, and his tone seemed more conciliatory.

“Their ages are 17. They give them pills at night, they put hallucinatory pills in their drinks, their milk, their coffee, their Nescafe,” Gaddafi said.

A Tripoli resident, who did not want to be identified because he feared reprisals for speaking to the foreign media, told Reuters: “It seems like he realized that his speech yesterday with the strong language had no effect on the people. He’s realizing it’s going to be a matter of time before the final chapter: the battle of Tripoli.”

FIGHTBACK

Forces loyal to the Libyan leader attacked anti-government militias controlling Misrata, Libya’s third-biggest city, 125 miles east of Tripoli, and several people were killed in fighting near the city’s airport.

Soldiers were reported along the roads approaching Tripoli. In Zawiyah, witnesses said pro- and anti-Gaddafi forces were firing at each other in the streets.

“It is chaotic there. There are people with guns and swords,” said Mohamed Jaber, who passed through Zawiyah on his way to Tunisia on Thursday.

Al Jazeera television broadcast pictures of what it said was a burning police station in Zawiyah. A witness told Reuters the Libyan army was present in force.

Anti-government militias were in control of Zuara, about 120 km (75 miles) west of Tripoli. There was no sign of police or military and the town was controlled by “popular committees” armed with automatic weapons.

The uprising has virtually halted Libya’s oil exports, said the head of Italy’s ENI, Libya’s biggest foreign oil operator. The unrest has driven world oil prices up to around $120 a barrel, stoking concern about the economic recovery.

Key Libyan oil and product terminals to the east of the capital are in the hands of rebels, according to Benghazi residents in touch with people in region. The oil and product terminals at Ras Lanuf and Marsa El Brega were being protected, they said, amid fears of attacks by pro-Gaddafi forces.

The desert nation pumps nearly 2 percent of the world’s oil.

World leaders condemned Gaddafi’s bloody crackdown on the week-long revolt, but did little to halt the bloodshed from the latest upheaval reshaping the Arab world.

U.S. President Barack Obama joined western leaders in condemning the violence in Libya.

“It is imperative that the nations and peoples of the world speak with one voice,” Obama said. “The suffering and bloodshed are outrageous.”

French Defense Minister Alain Juppe said he hoped Gaddafi was “living his last moments as leader”. British Foreign Secretary William Hague urged the world to increase pressure on Gaddafi.

UP TO 2,000 DEAD

France’s top human rights official said up to 2,000 people could have died in the unrest and he feared Gaddafi could unleash “migratory terrorism” on Europe as his regime collapses.

“The question is not if Gaddafi will fall, but when and at what human cost,” Francois Zimeray told Reuters. “For now the figures we have … more than 1,000 have died, possibly 2,000, according to sources.”

Benghazi, the eastern regional capital where the rebellion started a week ago, is starting to run itself under “people’s committees” as the dust of rebellion settles. In the east of Libya, many soldiers have withdrawn from active service.

A Reuters correspondent in the city was shown about a dozen people being held in a court building who residents said were “mercenaries” backing Gaddafi. Some were said to be African and others from southern Libya.

“They have been interrogated, and they are being kept safe, and they are fed well,” said Imam Bugaighis, 50, a university lecturer now helping organize committees to run the city, adding that they would be tried according to the law, but the collapse of institutions of state meant the timing was not clear.

Angry residents destroyed a barracks compound they said had been used by the mercenaries.

In Tripoli, which remains largely closed to foreign media, locals said they were too scared to go outside for fear of being shot by pro-government forces.

“People have started working today. But that does not mean they are not afraid. But until now, people are moving around,” a resident told Reuters. (Reporting by Tarek Amara, Christian Lowe, Marie-Louise Gumuchian, Souhail Karam, Firouz Sedarat, Tom Pfeiffer; Brian Love, Daren Butler; Dina Zayed, Sarah Mikhail and Tom Perry; Martina Fuchs, Michael Georgy; writing by Giles Elgood; Editing by Kevin Liffey)

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