'Gaddafi plans full-scale military action to crush rebels'

Son of Libyan leader, Saif al-Islam, says regime will not surrender even if Western powers intervene; US National Intelligence Director James Clapper warns better-equipped regime forces likely to prevail.

By REUTERS
March 10, 2011 19:41
2 minute read.
Saif al-Islam Gaddafi.

Saif Gaddafi 311. (photo credit: REUTERS)

Libya is preparing full-scale military action to crush a rebellion and will not surrender even if Western powers intervene in the conflict, Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi's most prominent son, Saif al-Islam, said on Thursday.

"It's time for liberation. It's time for action. We are moving now," he told Reuters in an English-language interview.

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Asked if the government was preparing to step up its military campaign, he said: "Time is out now. It's time for action...We gave them two weeks (for negotiations)."

"We will never ever give up. We will never ever surrender. This is our country. We fight here in Libya. The Libyan people, we will never ever welcome NATO, we will never ever welcome Americans here. Libya is not a piece of cake."

Earlier on Thursday, the top US spy chief said that better-equipped forces loyal to Gaddafi were likely to prevail in the long run against rebels fighting to end his 41-year rule.

National Intelligence Director James Clapper gave his assessment as the United States and its NATO allies debated in Brussels over how to support Libyan opposition groups who have suffered a series of military setbacks.

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Clapper, who oversees all 16 US intelligence agencies, told US lawmakers the rebels, who include civilians and dissident military units, were in for a "tough roll."

He told the Senate Armed Services Committee that Gaddafi's forces were better equipped and had more logistical resources, and "over longer-term, that the regime will prevail."

Military analysts say the rebels, although relatively well armed, cannot match the firepower of Gaddafi's forces and lack the training to use the weapons they have seized from weapons depots. They are also disorganized and fragmented, with little real leadership.

"Gaddafi intentionally designed the military so that those select units loyal to him are the most luxuriously equipped and (are) the best-trained and that is having a telling effect with the rebels," Clapper said.

"We believe that Gaddafi is in this for the long haul," he said. "He appears to be hunkering down for the duration."

Libyan tanks fired on rebel positions around the oil port of Ras Lanuf and warplanes hit another oil hub farther east on Thursday as Gaddafi's forces carried counter-attacks deeper into the insurgent heartland.

Clapper's warning that Gaddafi may prevail is likely to increase political pressure on President Barack Obama in Washington to do more to help the rebels force the Libyan leader from power.


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