News / Africa

Libyan Rebels Prepare to Defend Benghazi

Demonstrators gather next to anti-Gaddafi graffiti in the main square of Tobruk after Gaddafi's forces seized a strategic town in eastern Libya, March 15, 2011
Demonstrators gather next to anti-Gaddafi graffiti in the main square of Tobruk after Gaddafi's forces seized a strategic town in eastern Libya, March 15, 2011

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Forces loyal to Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi are bombarding opposition-held areas in the west and east, as rebel forces regroup at the town of Ajdabiya on the road to their stronghold of Benghazi. Pro-Gadhafi forces have been bombarding the town and claimed to have seized it Tuesday after skirmishes with the mostly young and lightly-armed rebels.


Seif al Islam Gadhafi, son of the Libyan leader, declared that the battle will now move to the main rebel-held city of Benghazi, and that its fate will be decided in several days.

Libyan state TV told Benghazi residents that the army is coming to their defense, "to assure [their] security, to right injustices done to [them], to restore calm and to bring life back to normal."   

Opposition leaders in Benghazi say the city will be ready for an attack.

Gadhafi's message

In the Libyan capital Tripoli, pro-Gadhafi supporters chanted that the "people want Moammar the Colonel." Gadhafi addressed his supporters from a military base in Tripoli, claiming the rebels and foreign media are deforming reality in Libya.

Ghadhafi said he has faced a rebellion before, but that this time his opponents are using the media to give the world a false picture of what is happening. He claimed the media are announcing that there are demonstrations in Libya when there are none, and that his forces are firing on demonstrators, when they are not.

People in the opposition-held town of Misrata in western Libya say government tanks and artillery have been shelling the town, and there are casualties.

Criticism toward West

Meanwhile, Colonel Gadhafi also vowed to crush his opponents militarily, thumping his fists on the table. He blasted Western nations as well, warning that he would teach them the true meaning of freedom.

He said Western leaders are telling him to give up power, but that they are criminals and that they should resign. He said they should give freedom to their own peoples the way he has done in Libya.

Opposition leaders and pro-Gadhafi officials gave conflicting reports through the day of what was taking place. Former interior minister but now rebel leader Abdel Fattah Younes told Al Arabiya TV that his forces have "killed dozens of Gadhafi soldiers, taken dozens of others prisoner and watched as others fled."

On the other side, Seif al Islam Gadhafi told Euronews that it is the rebels who were "fleeing to the Egyptian border," but he said his forces would allow them to do so, and would not take revenge.

Diplomatic moves to deal with the Libyan situation remained stalled. A draft resolution calling for a no-fly zone along with new sanctions against the Gadhafi government continued to meet opposition in the U.N. Security Council from China and Russia.

 

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