TRIPOLI - Muammar Gaddafi told Libyan rebels on Thursday his armed forces were coming to their capital Benghazi tonight and would not show any mercy on fighters who resisted them.

In a radio address, he told Benghazi residents that soldiers would search every house in the city and people who had no arms had no reason to fear.

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Gaddafi also told his troops not to pursue any rebels who drop their guns and flee tonight when government forces reach the city.

Earlier on Thursday, Libya warned foreign powers, only hours before a United Nations Security Council vote on a no-fly zone, that any outside attack on it would trigger retaliation and destabilize the Mediterranean region.

"Any foreign military act against Libya will expose all air and maritime traffic in the Mediterranean Sea to danger and civilian and military (facilities) will become targets of Libya's counter-attack," said the statement broadcast on Libyan television and distributed by the official news agency JANA.

"The Mediterranean basin will face danger not just in the short-term, but also in the long-term," it said.

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The Defense Ministry said foreign military action to aid opponents to Muammar Gaddafi's 41-year rule would result in both short and long terms risks to the region.

The UN Security Council was due to vote on a resolution for a no-fly zone over Libya later on Thursday, raising the prospect of bombing raids against loyalist forces advancing on the rebel capital of Benghazi in eastern Libya.

France, the only country to recognize the interim rebel council in Benghazi, believes there is enough support for the resolution to pass and military intervention could take place within hours of that, senior French diplomatic sources said.

The Libyan remarks came as the the United States wants the United Nations to authorize not just a no-fly zone to aid Libyan rebels but also air strikes against Libyan tanks and heavy artillery, according to US officials.

The United States has concluded a "no-fly" zone should be adopted and other measures that go well beyond a no-fly zone, should be taken, including air strikes against Libyan armor and artillery, US officials said.

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