Strikes resume in Libya: 'Gaddafi may be a target'

By REUTERS
March 21, 2011 11:05

UK Defense Secretary says West may hit Libyan leader, as air strikes continue in the east and Gulf Arabs defend involvement in Libya; Hague: Arab League supports no-fly zone enforcement.

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Rebel fighter runs for cover in front of vehicles

Libya bombing 311. (photo credit: REUTERS/Goran Tomasevic)

ZUEITINA - Western forces launched air strikes until early on Monday on Muammar Gaddafi's forces around Ajdabiyah, a strategic town in east Libya that rebels aim to retake, rebels said.

British Defense Secretary Liam Fox said that Gaddafi could become a target of the Western coalition's air strikes, as long as civilians' safety would be guaranteed.

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Fox reportedly explained that the scale of the attacks are "essential in terms of the Gaddafi regime's ability to prosecute attacks on their own people."

Rebels said air strikes on Ajdabiyah began late on Sunday, continuing through Monday morning.

"There were air strikes till early this morning. The rebels attacked at about 3 a.m. and Gaddafi's forces counter-attacked. They are still at the eastern gate of Ajdabiyah," said Ahmed al-Tir, a rebel fighter in Zueitina about 9 miles away.

"The air strikes were on the eastern gate. I saw that myself and I think there were air strikes on the western gate but I only saw smoke from that direction," he said.

Others said the attacks mainly targeted the western gate.

"We are waiting for the French to bomb them. We are confident they will do this. We are also waiting for more supplies," said rebel fighter Ahmed al-Ebeidi, when asked about when the rebels would move on Ajdabiyah.

Gulf States, Arab League support Libya air strikes

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Gulf Arab states reject Iranian and other foreign interference in their internal affairs and said Qatar and the United Arab Emirates were taking part in Libyan military operations for "safety and security".

"We reject any intervention in our internal affairs and among these countries is Iran," Gulf Cooperation Council Secretary-General Abdulrahman al-Attiyah told reporters on the sidelines of a conference in Abu Dhabi, responding to questions about Saudi and UAE troops helping the government in Bahrain.

Asked about UAE and Qatari involvement in a Western military operation against Libyan ruler Muammar Gaddafi, he said: "We are within the coalition for safety and security according to the UN resolution."

Also on Monday, British Foreign Secretary William Hague said the Arab League still supports air strikes on Libya to enforce a no-fly zone.

Hague said he had spoken to Arab League Secretary-General Amr Moussa after Moussa was quoted as saying he did not want military strikes that hit civilians.

"Of course he was expressing his concern, as we as all do, about any civilian casualities," Hague told BBC Radio 4. "He continued to support the UN resolution, the implementation of the resolution."


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