Gaddafi defiant as NATO intensifies Tripoli strikes

TRIPOLI Tue Jun 7, 2011 6:32pm EDT

1 of 13. Smoke rises after coalition air strikes in Tripoli June 7, 2011.

Credit: Reuters/Stringer

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TRIPOLI (Reuters) - NATO unleashed its heaviest bombing of the Libyan capital since air strikes began in March, but Muammar Gaddafi vowed to fight to the end.

Sustained attacks continued through Tuesday and into the night after warplanes hit the city several times an hour, hour after hour, in an onslaught the Libyan leader's government said killed 31 people.

Describing planes overhead and explosions around him, Gaddafi spoke defiantly after strikes on his Bab al-Aziziya compound.

"We only have one choice: we will stay in our land dead or alive," Gaddafi said in a fiery audio address on state television.

It later showed images of what it said was a meeting between Gaddafi and tribal leaders on Tuesday.

U.S. President Barack Obama said in Washington there was significant progress in the operation and it was "just a matter of time before Gaddafi goes."

At least 31 people were killed in 60 strikes on the Libyan capital in the raids, government spokesman Moussa Ibrahim told reporters. His account could not be independently verified.

"How could the world sleep tonight knowing that armies of such evil are willingly and knowingly attacking a peaceful capital with 60 rockets and killing people ... while there is a way out of this. To sit down, talk and negotiate," Ibrahim said.

A British defense official said several operations carried out by fighter aircraft had targeted Gaddafi's secret police headquarters and a military installation on Tripoli's southwestern outskirts.

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

DIPLOMATIC MOVES

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.

Gaddafi forces pulled back to high ground in the Western Mountains outside Yafran, 130 km (80 miles) southwest of Tripoli. The rebels broke a long government siege of the town on Monday.

But a rebel commander in Zintan, in the same region, said Gaddafi's forces were massing on Tuesday in their biggest numbers in the area since the start of the conflict.

Diplomatic overtures were being made to the rebels by world powers, including Russia and China, despite their misgivings about interference in Libya's affairs.

A Russian special envoy for Africa said in the rebel capital of Benghazi on Tuesday that Gaddafi could no longer represent Libya and that Russia was ready to help in any way possible.

In Beijing, the Chinese Foreign Ministry said an Egypt-based Chinese diplomat had visited Benghazi for talks with the rebel-led National Transitional Council.

The Libya contact group of Western and Arab countries agreed in May to provide millions of dollars in non-military aid to help the rebels keep services and the economy running.

They meet on Thursday in the United Arab Emirates to discuss rebel plans and financing for them.

(Writing by John Irish; editing by Andrew Roche)

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Comments (19)
Invictuss wrote:
So where is this thing going and how is NATO protecting civilians by bombing the capital after running out of targets.. How do you barely imagine a band of ragtas to take on the capital hosting half of the population of Lybia(and being 60+% behind Gadaffi???? Maybe they can take if after nato demolish it with humanitarian bombings???? Where is this thing going to end…

Jun 07, 2011 2:12am EDT  --  Report as abuse
jlt2 wrote:
BBC reports that the military is claiming the injury of a young girl was exposed as propaganda and the result of a car crash not bombings. Additionally, the military is losing faith in the ghaddafi fight. It is said not to be the first time claims have turned out to be lies by the ghaddafi supporters!

Time is on the rebels side…they can get it together and determine what kind of Gov’t they want and who they want to lead!

Jun 07, 2011 10:01am EDT  --  Report as abuse
I think this is the first time that NATO stands beside the people instead of being at the side of Tyrants. Some people think that NATO could kill innocent people and could be right.
But, could this people imagine how many thousands GADDAFI could kill if the NATO did not intervene?
The Mad Dog GADDAFI is speculating through his Channels that NATO has invaded Libya, intervened in Libyan interior affaires, Killed innocent people and so on.
In all cases GADDAFI is responsible for any death lost in Libya and he should be jugged for his crimes in a fair court trial.
We hope that NATO will be very efficient in his intervention, and very speedy to avoid life lost for those who are being held as human shield in TRIPOLI.
We also know that ALGERIA is involved in this conflict and supporting Gaddafi regime by sending mercenary men and armed vehicles to the loyalists and this will be more delicate for the NATO to finish the Job fast.

Jun 07, 2011 11:22am EDT  --  Report as abuse
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