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following news reports are summaries from original sources. They may
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Libyan Fighters Launch Attacks East and West,
Qadhafi Still Defiant, NATO Contact Group Meets in Istanbul
Libya stalemate begins to show signs of breaking
BEIJING, July 17, 2011 (Xinhua) --
The stalemate in Libya has in the past week appeared to begin giving
way to the advancing rebels, as the opposition was buoyed by the news
their regime was recognized by a number of major powers.
On the battle front, after months of NATO-led bombings and seesaw
battles, the rebels fighting Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi's government
forces reached towns only dozens of kilometers from the capital Tripoli.
And on the political front, the opposition National Transitional
Council (NTC) was recognized as "the legitimate governing authority in
Libya" by more than 30 countries in Istanbul on Friday.
The rebels' military advance and the recognition by the United
States of the NTC bring pressure to bear on Gaddafi's forces, as
billions of dollars in frozen Libyan funds could be unlocked -- good
news for the cash-strapped rebels.
Meanwhile, a change of stance was also seen from Russia, who had
been an advocate of negotiations between the warring sides. Moscow now
agrees with Washington that Gaddafi's "days are numbered" and that the
crisis should end with his ouster.
While NATO has been intensifying airstrikes against Gaddafi's
forces, the defiant Libyan leader on Saturday vowed never to leave his
country, in an audio address to supporters in the city of Zawiya, some
50 km west of Tripoli.
Whether the conflict would eventually come to an end with a
military victory for either of the two sides, or the crisis would be
resolved through a negotiated political settlement, the trend and
outcome of the "chess game" in Libya is becoming more apparent anyway.
Editor: Deng Shasha
Libya's Gaddafi vows to stay as NATO intensifies air raids
TAJOURA/TRIPOLI, Libya, July 17, 2011 (Xinhua) --
A new round of NATO airstrikes rattled the suburbs of the Libyan
capital Sunday as Muammar Gaddafi vowed never to leave his country.
Tripoli's eastern suburban town of Tajoura came under heavy NATO
air strikes in the early hours of Sunday, and at least 20 huge
explosions were heard by Xinhua correspondents at the scene. The air
strikes have been going on for at least an hour and columns of heavy
smoke were rising everywhere as a result of the bombing of the town,
roughly 25 km east of Tripoli, the correspondents reported from there.
Libyan state television Al-Jamahiriya reported that NATO has
raided civilian and military sites. The television, quoting a
military source, said there had been victims but did not give any
figure. Earlier, Gaddafi said that he would never leave his country
or surrender in the face of rebel attacks and NATO airstrikes.
"They are asking me to leave. That's a laugh. I will never leave
the land of my ancestors or the people who have sacrificed themselves
for me," he said Saturday in an audio address to supporters in the city
of Zawiya,some 50 km west of Tripoli.
"After we gave our children as martyrs, we can't backtrack, or
surrender or give up or move an inch," he said.
In his speech, Gaddafi also said the NATO air raids on Libya must
stop to avoid more civilian casualties.
The embattled leader's speech came after Libya's main opposition
group had been recognized by more than 30 nations as Libya's legitimate
On Friday, the Libya Contact Group recognized the opposition
National Transitional Council (NTC) as the sole and legitimate
interlocutor of the Libyan people.
The announcement was made shortly after the conclusion of the
fourth meeting of the group in Istanbul, which was attended by U.S.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh
Rasmussen and officials from 32 countries and seven international
organizations. "Henceforth and until an interim authority is in
place, participants agreed to deal with the National Transitional
Council as the legitimate governing authority in Libya," the group said
in a statement. It said Gaddafi's government no longer had any
legitimacy in Libya and that he and his family members must leave the
The statement also said that the group welcomed the role of the
NTC in leading the transition process in Libya and expressed support for
its efforts to broaden its popular base to embrace all Libyan people.
While NATO continues its heavy bombing of Libya, the Libyan
opposition forces have failed to make significant advances recently.
On Saturday, the opposition forces suffered their bloodiest day
in the offensive to seize the control of the country's strategic oil
town of Brega.
NTC spokesman Abdel Hafiz Ghoga told reportes in the rebels'
stronghold of Benghazi the opposition forces' advance to Brega had been
slowed by minefields but they were preparing to enter the town "within
"The battles have caused some casualties, as Gaddafi's forces
laid landmines in and around Brega," he said. "But our special forces
managed to push forward a few kilometers and disarm some landmines."
At least ten rebels have been reported killed and more than 170
wounded since the offensive began on Thursday.
Editor: Tang Danlu
Gaddafi vows to remain in Libya as rebels advance
Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi has vowed not to go into exile
despite a new offensive by rebels on the key refinery town
of Brega. In a defiant loudspeaker address to supporters,
Gaddafi said he would never leave the land of his ancestors.
Fresh blasts rocked Tripoli on Sunday after
veteran Libyan leader Moamer Kadhafi vowed never to give in to
mounting calls to go into exile despite a new offensive by
rebels seeking to oust him.
At least 13 explosions were heard before and
just after 1 am (2300 GMT Saturday). An AFP journalist was
unable to say immediately what the targets had been.
State television reported that “the
colonialist crusader aggressor” had raided civilian and military
sites in the Ain Zara district and in Tajoura in the eastern
The blasts came just hours after Kadhafi had
insisted in a defiant speech that he would never quit his
“They are asking me to leave. That’s a
laugh. I will never leave the land of my ancestors or the people
who have sacrificed themselves for me,” he said in a loudspeaker
address to supporters in Zawiyah, west of the capital.
“I’m ready to sacrifice myself for my
people, and I will never quit this land sprinkled with the blood
of my ancestors who fought Italian and British colonialists,” he
“These rats have taken our people hostage in
Benghazi, Misrata and the western mountains, using them as human
shields,” Kadhafi said of the rebels’ eastern stronghold and
their two enclaves in the mainly government-held west.
“Five million armed Libyans will march on
them and liberate the occupied towns as soon as the order is
Libya’s rebels on Saturday suffered their
bloodiest day yet in the offensive to wrest control of Brega
from Kadhafi’s troops, as medics said the death toll had risen
to at least 12.
Nine people were killed on Saturday and 79
wounded as loyalist landmines began to vie with Grad rockets to
ramp up the casualties, according to a list from the hospital in
Rebels said their steady advance on the key
refinery town was slowed by the discovery of defensive trenches
that had been filled with flammable chemicals by the retreating
After a small rebel reconnaissance unit
punched through into Brega late on Friday before falling back, a
rebel commander said troops were now moving “slowly but surely”
towards it from east, north and south.
It was not clear what kind of chemicals were
being used, but Brega is home to a large petrochemical facility
that produces a range of oil by-products.
At a hospital in Ajdabiya, Dr Ahmed Dinari
said many of the casualties were caused by landmines rather than
“We have had five more injuries this
morning, all of them from mine explosions,” he said. Lying
prone in “Bed 2,” 19-year-old Ali Saleh said he had been in the
central rebel column when his armoured personnel carrier hit a
“We were very close to Brega at around 3 am
(0100 GMT). Then we got instructions from NATO to fall back and
as we were falling back the vehicle hit a mine, destroying the
He was suffering from shock and a lightly
damaged knee. Sagezli said 250 mines had been uncovered so far.
The alliance said that on Saturday it hit
one tank, five armed vehicles, a multiple rocket launcher and
another rocket launcher in and around Brega.
In raids east of Tripoli, NATO-led aircraft
took out three radar, a surface-to-air missile launcher and a
military storage facility, the alliance added.
Southwest of the capital, rebel fighters
exchanged rocket and machine-gun fire with Kadhafi’s forces
early on Sunday both in the Nafusa Mountains and in the plains
below around Bir Ayad, a key junction on the road to Tripoli,
AFP correspondents reported.
The rebels’ senior commander for the region,
Mokhtar Farnana, said they were consolidating their grip on the
territory they already held for fear of loyalist counter-attack.
“The most important thing is to keep hold of
the territory we have captured and to make it safe before making
further attacks,” Farnana told AFP.
“We will not allow Kadhafi’s forces to
retake places we have captured.”
Rebels suffer casualties as fighting erupts across Libya
Ten Libyan insurgents were killed and 172 wounded on
Saturday when a rebel offensive on the oil port of Brega in
eastern Libya was repelled by Gaddafi loyalists. Fresh
fighting was also reported in the Western Mountains, south
of capital Tripoli.
Ten Libyan rebels were
reported killed and 172 wounded in an attack on the eastern
oil port of Brega on Saturday, while insurgents drove back
forces loyal to Muammar Gaddafi in the west.
In the latest of a series of speeches
apparently designed to show he enjoys support in the areas
he controls, Gaddafi described the rebels as worthless
traitors and rejected suggestions that he was about to leave
“They said Gaddafi will go to Honolulu,”
he said in a televised speech. “This is funny: To leave the
graves of my forefathers and my people? Are you serious?”
His defiance came a day after Western
and Arab powers, led by the United States, said the rebel
leadership was the legitimate government of Libya. Reports
have circulated that Gaddafi is seeking a negotiated way out
of the crisis.
Brega’s oil resources make it a prize
for the rebels, who have been trying to dislodge Gaddafi’s
troops in the face of rocket bombardments, according to Al
Most opposition fighters are about 20 km
(12 miles) outside Brega, kept back by Grad rockets fired by
government forces, the network reported. The rebels had
however captured four government soldiers.
In the Western Mountains, where
insurgents are trying to push towards Tripoli, heavy
fighting erupted on Saturday.
Sustained gunfire and volleys of
artillery could be heard from the village of Bir Ayad, 15 km
(9 miles) south of the front line at the town of Bir Ghanam.
Rebels at Bir Ghanam hold the high
ground on the outskirts of the town, their closest position
to Tripoli, about 80 km (50 miles) away.
Ahmed, a rebel fighter in Bir Ayad, said
a convoy of about 15 vehicles from Gaddafi’s forces tried to
approach Bir Ghanam, but the rebels fired at it and the
convoy retreated after a about an hour of shooting.
“They were in a column at first but when
we started firing they split into groups of three or four
vehicles and all of them fled,” local rebel commander Fathi
Alzintani told Reuters.
Rebels in the Western Mountains have
made progress in recent weeks after repelling assaults by
Gaddafi’s forces. Their next goal is Garyan, a town that
controls the highway south from Tripoli.
But the rebels have been hampered by
divisions, ill-discipline and supply problems.
In Misrata, the rebels’ main stronghold
in the west, three rebel fighters have been killed and four
injured in the past 24 hours, hospital staff said.
Away from the battlefield, Gaddafi has
made a series of audio speeches to coincide with state
television broadcasts of rallies attended by thousands of
people in Tripoli and elsewhere.
As loyalists gathered on the streets of
the town of Zawiyah, near the capital, on Saturday, Gaddafi
said the rebels were “apostates” who had “become
Calling on the rebels to lay down their
arms, he said:
“Islam is being humiliated by the
cross ... They are burning mosques with bombs.”
“We have given martyrs, yes ... It’s
impossible to compromise or make the slightest concession.”
Crowds were shown firing to the air at
the end of the speech.
Rebel leaders received a boost in their
campaign to oust Gaddafi on Friday when they won recognition
as the legitimate government of Libya from the United States
and other powers.
Western nations said they also planned
to increase the military pressure on Gaddafi’s forces to
press him to give up power after 41 years at the head of the
North African state.
Recognition of the rebels by the
international contact group on Libya is an important
diplomatic step that could unlock billions of dollars in
frozen Libyan funds.
The decision came as reports circulated
Gaddafi had sent out emissaries seeking a negotiated end to
the conflict, although he remains defiant in public.
The contact group also agreed on a road
map whereby Gaddafi should relinquish power and put forward
plans for Libya’s transition to democracy under the rebel
National Transitional Council.
The Libya “contact group” of 15 countries are meeting in
Istanbul Friday to discuss how to fund Libyan rebels and to
see how a negotiated settlement could work. But Libyan leader
Muammar Gaddafi remains defiant and is taking the fight to the
from some 15 countries are meeting in Istanbul Friday in an
attempt to find a diplomatic solution to the military
stalemate in Libya.
It is the fourth meeting of the Libyan
“contact group”, which includes US Secretary of State
Hillary Clinton, British Foreign Secretary William Hague and
his French counterpart Alain Juppé.
On the table are options for granting
the rebel Transitional National Council (TNC) loans in lieu
of Libyan funds that are frozen in international bank
The TNC is desperate for cash, not only
to fund the fight against Gaddafi, but also to maintain
basic services in rebel-held areas.
The contact group will also be
discussing ways in which a negotiated settlement between the
rebels and Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi could work.
France played a leading role in rallying
world support for the rebel movement and was the first
country to recognise the TNC in March.
France also said this week it had had
“contacts” with the Gaddafi Regime in Tripoli, and on
Tuesday said that a diplomatic solution was within reach.
The US, however, has warned of
contradictory messages coming out of Tripoli.
And in the context of determined
fighting from troops loyal to Gaddafi this week, a quiet
exit by the strongman may be wishful thinking, said FRANCE
24’s correspondent in Istanbul Jasper Mortimer.
“Gaddafi has repeatedly said he will
fight to the end,” Mortimer said. “He may well be bluffing,
but as long as his troops keep fighting back as they did
yesterday we have to take him at his word.”
Gaddafi’s men, despite being weakened by
the NATO bombing, have been taking the fight to the rebels,
who on Thursday were trying to solidify their positions near
Asabah, a strategic city 80 kilometres (50 miles) south of
"Yesterday, we got to within six
kilometres (four miles) of Asabah, but most of our forces
have returned" to Gualish, where rebels were resisting a
counterattack by loyalist troops in the desert hamlet, said
local commander Abdel Majid Salem.
Salem said the bulk of the rebels had
returned to "secure the area" around Gualish, which was
attacked and captured by soldiers loyal to the Tripoli
regime earlier in the week.
Reinforcements later poured in from
villages and drove the loyalists out, chasing them up the
road toward Asabah.
On Thursday Gaddafi urged his men to
march on the rebel capital Benghazi, in eastern Libya, to
liberate the city of “traitors.”
"The hour of battle has sounded,” he
said in a message relayed by loudspeaker across capitel
Tripoli. “Prepare to march on Benghazi and on [rebel-held]
Misrata, and on the mountains of the west.
“We are here and we will stay here on
this ground ... I will stay with my people until the last
drop of my blood is spilled," a defiant Gaddafi said.
head of Libya’s Transitional
National Council (TNC) met with
the president of the European
Commission as part of the TNC’s
drive to achieve international
recognition and legitimacy, as
reports emerged detailing
allegations of human rights
abuses committed by rebel
FRANCE 24 journalist David
Thomson reported that he had
witnessed events in Libya that
confirmed Human Rights Watch
(HRW) allegations of looting,
arson and abuse of civilians by
Thomson, who was following
the rebel forces operating in
the Nafusa mountains south of
Tripoli, said he saw “scenes of
devastation” behind the front
“I saw villages burned and
looted,” he said. “And as the
HRW report says, some people,
mostly black Africans believed
to be fighting as mercenaries
for the Gaddafi regime, were
beaten and sometimes executed.”
He added: “The rebel forces
may not be quite as clean-cut as
the coalition is making them out
HRW said two of the towns in
question were home to a tribe
close to Gaddafi: "Al-Awaniya
and Zawiyat al-Bagul are home to
members of the Mesheshiya tribe,
known for its loyalty to the
On Wednesday the TNC forces
rejected the HRW accusations.
Friends in Europe
could not come at a worse time,
with the TNC on a drive to boost
its ties in Europe and to
increase its legitimacy on the
On Wednesday, the Benelux
countries (Belgium, Netherlands
and Luxembourg) recognised the
rebel council, and TNC leader
Mahmud Jibril was due to meet
with European Commission
president Jose Manuel Barroso.
FRANCE 24’s Meabh McMahon,
reporting from Brussels, said
the HRW report, although
critical, was not a PR disaster
for the TNC.
“These allegations won’t do
the rebels many favours but I
don’t think they will change the
position,” she said, adding that
the EU, and in particular its
foreign affairs chief Catherine
Ashton, had been particularly
keen supporters of the TNC from
“The statement this morning
was perhaps a warning to the
rebels not to abuse their
power,” said McMahon. “It is
also a reminder to world leaders
to be prudent ahead of Friday’s
‘contact group’ meeting with the
TNC in Istanbul.”
France, which was the biggest
advocate of military action
against Libyan leader Muammer
Gaddafi’s regime, was the first
country to recognise the
On Tuesday, the French
government reaffirmed its
commitment to the TNC as both
houses of parliament voted
overwhelmingly in favour of
continued military intervention
Last month, it emerged that
France had made a weapons drop
to rebels in the same area of
the Nafusa mountains, which was
sharply criticised by Russia and
other critics of the NATO
offensive against Gaddafi.
France has since stated that
it has stopped delivering arms
to the rebels.
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