Libya: We'll attack civilians, foreign targets if attacked

Country says int'l attack will endanger air, maritime traffic in Mediterranean; Threat comes as UNSC set to vote on Libyan no-fly zone.

By REUTERS
March 17, 2011 19:56
2 minute read.
A US F-16 fighter jet.

F16 fighter jet. (photo credit: Reuters)

TRIPOLI - Libya warned foreign powers on Thursday, 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.

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

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.

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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.

Earlier Thursday, at least 30 women, children and elderly men were killed in crossfire as Libyan rebels and Gaddafi's troops fought around the eastern town of Ajdabiyah, Al Arabiya TV reported on Thursday.

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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