Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi's forces bombarded Libya's third largest
city with artillery fire and advanced on the rebel stronghold of
Benghazi on Wednesday as diplomatic steps to prevent him quelling a
revolt ran aground.
A newspaper in Benghazi reported that a Russian-made MiG-36 aircraft,
operated by the rebels, had bombed the airport at Al Kardabiya near
Gaddafi's hometown of Sirte on Wednesday.
Gaddafi lashes out at backers of no-fly zone
Gaddafi's forces drive rebels from 2 eastern towns
The Brnieq newspaper said the bombing raid was in retaliation for an
attack by warplanes on Benghazi's airport. Libya's Jana state news
agency quoted the director of Sirte airport as saying the report was
"false and unfounded."
Both the rebel administration and the government in Tripoli have in the
past few days put out information about military gains which has later
turned out to be untrue.
But the rebels' position looked highly vulnerable after the government
said its troops took control of the junction at Ajdabiyah, opening the
way to Benghazi.
The Libyan army told residents of Benghazi to lay down their arms, and
one of Gaddafi's sons, Saif al-Islam, told Euronews TV that Libya's
second largest city would fall whether or not there was a no-fly zone.
"Everything will be over in 48 hours," he said.
France confident of no-fly zone resolution
France is confident it will secure agreement for a draft resolution on a no-fly zone over Libya at the UN Security Council with the active participation of Arab countries, its foreign minister said on Wednesday.
"I have several reasons to think we will achieve our objective," Alain Juppe told parliament. "We will only act with a UN Security Council mandate and with not only the support, but the active participation of Arab countries."
A UN Security Council draft resolution on a no-fly zone over Libya to protect civilians was circulated on Tuesday, which would authorize "all necessary measures to enforce" a ban on flights.
Libya's exiled crown prince was also urging the UN Security Council on Wednesday to impose a no-fly zone over his homeland and criticized the United States, Russia and other governments as "uncaring" towards Libya's people.
Mohammed El Senussi, whose family was overthrown by Gaddafi in a 1969
coup, said he had written to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and
Security Council members "imploring urgent intervention to put an end to
the killings being undertaken by the murderous regime of Colonel
He praised Britain, France and Lebanon for putting forward a draft
resolution on a no-fly zone, while criticizing the United States,
Russia, China, India and Germany for hesitating or opposing such a move.
The governments of those countries were being "dispassionate and
uncaring towards innocent men, women and children being slaughtered
indiscriminately by the Tripoli tyrant, Gaddafi," he said.