News / Middle East

Exodus from Libya Grows As Conflict Continues

Soldiers and dozens of tanks from the Libyan military's elite Khamis Brigade, led by Gadhafi's youngest son Khamis Gadhafi, take positions and check vehicles after arriving hours earlier on the road in Harshan, 10km east of Zawiya, in Libya, Feb. 28, 201
Soldiers and dozens of tanks from the Libyan military's elite Khamis Brigade, led by Gadhafi's youngest son Khamis Gadhafi, take positions and check vehicles after arriving hours earlier on the road in Harshan, 10km east of Zawiya, in Libya, Feb. 28, 201

The number of people fleeing Libya continues to grow as the battle for control of the North African country shows no signs of abating.

It is now estimated that more than 110,00 people, many of them foreign migrants, have fled into Egypt on the east and Tunisia to the west.  But U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres said Monday that many of those wanting to leave are stranded, lacking the resources to escape.

Middle East analysts predict a lengthy struggle for control of Libya, with both pro- and anti-Gadhafi forces increasingly entrenched in their positions. Civil war, they say, is not out of the question.

Moammar Gadhafi told reporters on Monday that the people of Libya "love" him and are prepared to die for him.  He spoke in Tripoli, the capital and last major city that his forces control.  He again rejected any plans to resign.

When asked by reporters about Mr. Gadhafi's comments, U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice called him "delusional."  She said the statement "underscores how unfit he is to lead and how disconnected he is from reality."

Meanwhile, protests against the Gadhafi government continued Monday.  In Tripoli, security forces dispersed several hundred demonstrators.

Witnesses said protesters gathered in Tripoli's Tajouri district and shouted slogans against Mr. Gadhafi.  Government forces rushed to the scene to break up the protests.

In Misurata, about 200 kilometers east of Tripoli, witnesses said skirmishes raged between rebel forces and those loyal to Mr. Gadhafi. Residents of Misurata and the western refinery town city of Zawiya are said to be bracing for a possible attacks by pro-Gadhafi troops.

Also on Monday, Libyan war planes attacked ammunition depots south of the opposition stronghold of Benghazi in eastern Libya.

France said Monday that it is sending two planes with humanitarian aid to Benghazi to support opposition forces.

In another development, the U.S. State Department said it has been informed that the Libyan government has dismissed its ambassador to Washington.  Ali Aujali, who defected to the opposition last week, has been replaced by a Gadhafi loyalist.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

 

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