Libyan government rejects rebels' ceasefire conditions

Western coalition forces bombard civilian, military areas in Khoms, Arrujban; insurgents marshal defenses in eastern heartland.

April 2, 2011 06:04
2 minute read.
A rebel fighter stands next a vehicle in Libya

Libya rebel 311 Reuters. (photo credit: REUTERS/Andrew Winning)


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TRIPOLI - The Libyan government rejected ceasefire conditions set out by rebel leaders on Friday, saying government troops would not leave Libyan cities as demanded by the opposition.

"They are asking us to withdraw from our own cities. .... If this is not mad then I don't know what this is. We will not leave out cities," said Mussa Ibrahim, the government spokesman."

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Also on Friday, Western-led coalition forces bombarded civilian and military areas in the towns of Khoms and Arrujban, Libyan television said, quoting a military official.

"Civilian and military locations in Khoms and Arrujban were hit this evening by the bombardment of the colonial and crusader aggressors," it said in a written news flash.

Khoms is about about 100 km (60 miles) east of Tripoli while Arrujban lies is about 190 km southwest of the capital.

Earlier Muammar Gaddafi's forces stormed the western rebel outpost of Misrata with tanks and artillery, a rebel spokesman said, while insurgents marshalled defenses in their eastern heartland.

A rebel leader speaking after talks with a UN envoy in Benghazi offered a ceasefire on condition Gaddafi left Libya and his forces withdrew from cities now under government control. It was unclear if the offer was part of broader diplomatic moves to end a conflict that appears deadlocked on the military front.

Rebels speaking from Misrata said Gaddafi's forces had brought their superior firepower to bear on the insurgents' last western enclave with an intense bombardment.

"They used tanks, rocket-propelled grenades, mortar rounds and other projectiles to hit the city today. It was random and very intense bombardment," the spokesman, called Sami, told Reuters by telephone. "We no longer recognize the place. The destruction cannot be described."

"The pro-Gaddafi soldiers who made it inside the city through Tripoli Street are pillaging the place, the shops, even homes, and destroying everything in the process."

Click for full Jpost coverage of turmoil in the Middle East

"They are targeting everyone, including civilians' homes. I don't know what to say, may Allah help us," he said.

The account from Misrata, Libya's third biggest city 200 km (130 miles) east of Tripoli, could not be verified. Authorities do not allow journalists to report freely from the city.

A doctor in Misrata told Reuters in an email that the 32nd Brigade, one of the best-equipped and trained units, had been sent early on Friday to seize control of the city.

"So the question is where is the international community?" the doctor said.

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