Libyan Soldiers Tank 311 (R).
(photo credit: REUTERS)
TRIPOLI - The United States accused Muammar Gaddafi of defying
international demands for an immediate ceasefire, and France's UN envoy
predicted military action within hours of an international meeting on
Libya on Saturday.
A unilateral ceasefire declared on Friday by the Libyan government
appeared to have done little to convince outside powers to hold off on
plans for air strikes to force an end to an increasingly bloody civil
Cameron: UK to deploy planes for Libya operation
Forces loyal to Gaddafi shell west Libya's Misrata
Residents in the rebel-held western city of Misrata said they faced heavy bombardment on Friday -- a charge the government denied -- while a US official said Gaddafi's forces were still advancing towards the rebels' eastern stronghold Benghazi.
Within hours of President Barack Obama saying the terms of a UN resolution meant to end fighting in Libya were non-negotiable, his UN envoy, Susan Rice, asked by CNN whether Gaddafi was in violation of these terms, said: "Yes, he is."
Gaddafi said there was no justification for the UN resolution.
is blatant colonialism. It does not have any justification. This will
have serious consequences on the Mediterranean and on Europe," he said
in comments reported by Al Jazeera television.
along with Britain has been leading a drive for military intervention,
will host a meeting on Saturday on Libya which will be attended by US
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Arab leaders.
will have a summit in Paris with all the major participants in the
operations and in the diplomatic effort. So I think it would be a good
moment to send the last signal," the French ambassador to the United
Nations told BBC's Newsnight.
"So I guess that after this summit,
I think that in the coming hours, I think we will go to launch the
military intervention," ambassador Gerard Araud said.Obama made clear
any military action would aim to change conditions across Libya --
rather than just in the rebel-held east -- by calling on Gaddafi's
forces to pull back from the western cities of Zawiyah and Misrata as
well as from the east. "All attacks against civilians must stop," Obama
said, a day after the UN Security Council passed a resolution
authorizing international military intervention.
stop his troops from advancing on Benghazi, pull them back from
Ajdabiya, Misrata and Zawiyah, and establish water, electricity and gas
supplies to all areas. Humanitarian assistance must be allowed to reach
the people of Libya ...
"Let me be clear, these terms are not
negotiable... If Gaddafi does not comply ... the resolution will be
enforced through military action."MISRATA BOMBED, RESIDENTS SAY
US national security official, who spoke on condition of anonymity,
later said the troop movements by Gaddafi's forces towards Benghazi were
"purposeful". The assessment was based on official reporting reaching
US national security agencies.
was impossible to contact anyone on the frontline far to the west of
Benghazi to find out what was happening. But in Benghazi, rebels
dismissed the ceasefire declaration as a ruse.
"He is lying. His
troops are advancing. We don't believe what Gaddafi says," said Mohammed
Ishmael al-Tajouri, from the rebel coalition in Benghazi. "When he
comes to Benghazi he will be fighting. There is no negotiating with
In Misrata, which like Zawiyah has been left stranded
in the west while rebels who had advanced towards them from the east
were beaten back by a counter-offensive by Gaddafi forces, residents
said they had faced heavy bombardment on Friday.
One doctor said at least 38 people had been killed in the assault launched on Friday morning.
In Tripoli the government said there had been no bombing since it announced the ceasefire.
have had no bombardment of any kind since the ceasefire was declared,"
Deputy Foreign Minister Khaled Kaim told journalists when asked about
reports of continued government operations in Misrata and other parts of
Kaim said Libya was asking China, Germany, Malta and Turkey to send observers to monitor its adherence to the ceasefire.