UPDATE 2-Libyans want rapid action after UN no-fly vote

Fri Mar 18, 2011 7:51am EDT

Related Topics

* Many fled after Gaddafi vowed retribution

* Rebels frustrated by slow pace of Western action

* For N.Africa/Middle East unrest, click on [ID:nLDE71O2CH] (Adds quotes, background, previous Libya-Egypt border)

By Goran Tomasevic

SUSAH, Libya, March 18 (Reuters) - Supporters of Libyan rebels said on Friday they were impatient for action to follow up the U.N. resolution authorising a "no-fly" zone and military attacks on Muammar Gaddafi's forces.

"It's a great development. We are so thankful. Thousands came out last night, families, everyone celebrating. But we are waiting for it to be implemented. We are tired of talk," said Rajab Mohammed al-Agouri who left Benghazi late on Thursday.

Travelling with five children, he was one of many Libyans who fled to Egypt after waiting weeks for the West to act on rebel pleas to ground Gaddafi's warplanes and stop an offensive that has retaken swathes of rebel-held territory.

Some opponents of Gaddafi, while welcoming the resolution, said it should not be used to send in ground forces and warned it could inflame tension because Gaddafi loyalists have accused those backing the resolution of being foreign "lackeys".

"The no-fly zone is a great decision. It's there for the protection of women and children," said Anis al-Majbouri, an accountant travelling from Egypt to his family in Benghazi.

"But no Libyan will ever accept foreign soldiers coming to protect us. The U.N. decision will make tension in the nation rise. The Gaddafi supporters will say 'you're traitors, collaborating with the foreigners'," Majbouri said.

The U.N. Security Council passed a resolution late on Thursday endorsing a no-fly zone to halt government troops now 100 km (60 miles) from Benghazi, where the rebels have set up an informal administration, the Libyan National Council.

The resolution also authorised "all necessary measures" -- code for military action -- to protect civilians against Gaddafi's forces, who have launched a land, sea and air offensive on rebel-held territory.

"We are very happy and we have been celebrating since Thursday. We will never forget the countries who supported us and those who didn't," said 50-year-old policeman Abdel Sayyed in Susah, about 200 km (125 miles) east of Benghazi.

"We now want to see them (Gaddafi and his allies) tried and convicted by the courts," he told Reuters.

MANY FEAR RETRIBUTION

But many in the rebel-held east fear retribution by Gaddafi, who said on Thursday his forces were heading for Benghazi and would show no mercy to fighters who resisted.

"We will not settle for anything but liberation for this country's people from this regime," Libyan National Council head Mustafa Abdel Jalil told Al Jazeera television.

"Our rebels and their determination are capable of defeating them," he said after Gaddafi's speech late on Thursday and before the U.N. resolution was passed. He repeated calls for military intervention to protect civilians.

"The only reason we left was air strikes. We were overjoyed when we heard the news. In Benghazi, people were firing in the air, as were people in Tobruk," said Mahmoud, who was also with his family on the Egyptian border.

"It was like we'd won. But still, they should have done this long ago," the 32-year-old said.

The rebels moved westward from their stronghold of Benghazi earlier this month, but in less than two weeks they have been rolled back as Gaddafi's better equipped forces re-took a series of coastal towns, several with oil terminals.

Television images showed thousands of people in Benghazi listening to Gaddafi's speech, then erupting in celebration after the U.N. vote, waving anti-Gaddafi tricolours and chanting slogans against their leader of the past four decades.

Fireworks burst over the city and gunfire rang out. (Additional reporting by Mohammed Abbas and Angus MacSwan in Musaid, Libya; Writing by Edmund Blair in Cairo; editing by Tim Pearce)

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