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Libyan Rebel: NATO Unable to Halt Atrocities

A Libyan rebel, dressed as a cowboy, mans an anti-aircraft gun as fellow rebels load ammunition as they wait for the signal to advance at an intersection just outside Brega, Libya, Sunday, April 3, 2011. Libyan rebels want to install a parliamentary demo

A member of the rebels fighting forces loyal to Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi says his group is concerned that the international community has been unable to stop what he describes as the unbelievable atrocities being committed by Gadhafi forces against unarmed Libyans in Misrata and Zawiya.

Awad Juma also accuses the international community of allowing Gadhafi to import ammunition, as well as to export oil which, he says, strengthens the regime’s position.

“These atrocities are beyond inhumane acts. We call on all the human rights groups…to [help] stop these acts of committing these atrocities against old people, men and women and children being killed for nothing because they are on the side of the revolution. This is what the Gadhafi troops are doing. We call upon the free world to help stop this to save these people…who are being massacred in Misrata and Zawiya,” said Juma.

“Before they [international community] investigate, they should intervene in, and stop, the massacre first. Our priority now is to stop the killing of [civilians] to stop the torture and to stop these atrocities now. I cannot understand why the international community is not intervening. I think we are seeing another Bosnia [massacre] here. What is happening now is going to be even worse than Bosnia,” he added.

He says the international community is turning a “blind eye” to the ongoing massacre by Gadhafi forces.

Juma says their [the rebel] objective to force Gadhafi to step down will, in his words, be impossible to achieve if the international community fails to prevent the embattled leader from importing heavy weapons into Libya.

“NATO told us that Gadhafi’s supply will be stopped. But, he has got a vessel full of oil and this gives him another life…We thought if Gadhafi runs out of oil and gas, it will slow down his killing machine. But, all of a sudden, we found out that there is a vessel getting in despite the presence of NATO warships,” Juma said.

“I don’t want to say this, but there is a conspiracy against us. This is the feeling among the people. There is a conspiracy against the Libyan people, which I cannot find any justification for. [The] Libyan people are good and kind people and they don’t deserve what is being committed against them,” he added.

NATO has dismissed opposition criticism of the pace of the alliance's airstrikes against Gadhafi forces. A NATO spokeswoman [Carmen Romero] said Wednesday that the frequency and precision of airstrikes has not changed since NATO took control of military operations last week. She said protecting civilians in Misrata is NATO's “number-one priority.”

The head of Libya's rebel fighters has charged that a delay in carrying out NATO airstrikes around Misrata has caused civilian deaths.

French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe said Wednesday the situation in Misrata “cannot continue,” and promised talks with the head of NATO.

Juppe said pro-Gadhafi forces are hampering NATO's airstrikes by positioning themselves in heavily populated civilian areas where the alliance finds it difficult to target them precisely.