Accessibility links

Breaking News

Senior Official: Libyan Army to Leave Misrata

Libyan rebel fighters are seen in the room of a house while a comrade fires from a window at pro-Gadhafi troops in the besieged city of Misrata, the main rebel holdout in Gadhafi's territory, April 22, 2011

Libya's Deputy Foreign Minister says the army will pull out of the besieged, rebel-held city of Misrata.

Khaled Kaim said Friday that the fate of the city will be left to the "tribes around Misrata and the Misrata people."

He did not say when or under what circumstances the army would leave.

Earlier Friday, U.S. Senator John McCain toured the Libyan rebel stronghold of Benghazi and called on the U.S. and other world powers to recognize the rebels' transitional council.

McCain said he will demand the Obama administration provide more funds for rebels to, in his words, "get this thing over with" and remove Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi from power. He called on the U.S. to transfer frozen assets from the Libyan government to the rebels.

White House spokesman Jay Carney said it is up to the "people of Libya to decide" who should run their country.

In the previously unannounced tour, McCain met with opposition leaders, visited with war wounded, and greeted Libyans on the streets of Benghazi.

Earlier, McCain told reporters the rebels are his "heroes," after his arrival in the eastern city that serves as the headquarters of the Libyan opposition.

The veteran Republican lawmaker was one of the strongest advocates for a military intervention in Libya, where rebel fighters are battling forces loyal to Gadhafi.

His visit comes a day after the United States approved the use of armed drone aircraft to support the NATO military mission in the country.

U.S. Admiral Mike Mullen said in a visit to Baghdad on Friday that the war in Libya is "moving towards stalemate and the U.S. is adding drones over Libya for "precision capabilities."

Officials say the drones will be especially useful in urban areas, like Misrata, where they can fly low and strike targets in crowded areas with more accuracy.

Rebel leaders have been urging NATO to provide more help in Misrata, which has been under siege by pro-government troops. Rights groups say hundreds of people have been killed in the city in more than six weeks of fighting.

Meanwhile, rebels in western Libya say they have taken control of a remote border crossing with Tunisia, following fierce clashes with government forces. News agencies say that as many as 100 soldiers fled into Tunisia and surrendered, as rebels took over the outpost 240 kilometers southwest of Tripoli.

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