Libya is preparing full-scale military action to crush the current rebellion and
will not surrender even if Western powers intervene in the conflict, Libyan
leader Muammar Gaddafi’s most prominent son, Saif al-Islam, said on
“It’s time for liberation. It’s time for action. We are moving
now,” he told Reuters in an English-language interview.
Gates: NATO planning for all military options on Libya
France: Libyan rebels are 'legitimate representatives'
Asked if the
government was preparing to step up its military campaign, he said: “Time is out
now. It’s time for action...We gave them two weeks (for
“We will never ever give up. We will never ever
surrender. This is our country. We fight here in Libya. The Libyan
people, we will never ever welcome NATO, we will never ever welcome Americans
here. Libya is not a piece of cake.”
Earlier on Thursday, the top US spy
chief said that better-equipped forces loyal to Gaddafi were likely to prevail in
the long run against rebels fighting to end his 41-year rule.
Intelligence Director James Clapper gave his assessment as the United States and
its NATO allies debated in Brussels over how to support Libyan opposition groups
who have suffered a series of military setbacks.
Libyan forces reportedly
reasserted control on Thursday over the strategic battlegrounds of Zawiyah and
Ras Lanuf, and warplanes hit another oil hub further east as Gaddafi carried
counterattacks deeper into the insurgent heartland.
Despite their losses,
the rebels took an important step towards international legitimacy when France
recognized their national council.
In the west, Gaddafi’s army laid siege
to starve out insurgents clinging to parts of the shattered city of Zawiyah,
strategically significant because it is close to his power base in the capital
Tripoli, after fierce see-saw battles this week. Few foreign journalists have
been able to reach Zawiyah, but Deborah Haynes of the UK newspaper The Times
tweeted from the battered city, “Rebels no where to be seen in center of
Major clean-up operation going on, green flags
France became the first significant country on Thursday to
recognize the rebel Libyan National Council as the legitimate representative of
the Libyan people. An official at President Nicolas Sarkozy’s office said France
would send an ambassador to Benghazi and receive a Libyan envoy in Paris. He was
speaking after Sarkozy met officials from the council.
Office suggested it could make the same move as France, saying Libyan National
Council members were “valid interlocutors” and Gaddafi should step down now.
“The UK recognizes states, not governments. The interim national council are
valid interlocutors, with whom we wish to work closely,” a Foreign Office
NATO and the European Union were looking into imposing a
no-fly zone over Libya to stop the government using jets and helicopters against
the outgunned rebels, who seized a string of cities east and west of Tripoli
early in the three-week-old war to end Gaddafi’s 41 years of iron-fisted
Despite rebel appeals to take the skies away from Gaddafi’s forces,
no quick action was expected as NATO has made clear it needs wider, United
Nations endorsement for such a move.
NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh
Rasmussen said on Thursday that any NATO military action in Libya would have to
be based on there being a demonstrable need, a clear mandate and support in the
“Any operation we undertake needs to respect three key
principles,” Rasmussen said, as NATO defense ministers met to discuss options to
respond to the turmoil in Libya. “Firstly there has to be demonstrable need for
NATO action, secondly there has to be a clear legal basis, and thirdly there has
to be firm regional support.”
More than 500 km. east of Tripoli,
Gaddafi’s warplanes and gunboats off the Mediterranean coast bombarded rebels
Thursday around Ras Lanuf, with projectiles crashing close to a building of the
Libyan Emirates Oil Refinery Company.
The New York Times reported that
fighters had fled the strategic refinery town after a series of air strikes.
Insurgents fired anti-aircraft guns towards warplanes and rockets out to sea
towards Gaddafi’s naval forces, but without visible effect.
also reported an air strike on Brega, another oil port 90 km. east of Ras Lanuf,
indicating that Gaddafi loyalists had not only halted a westwards insurgent push
in its tracks but were making inroads into the rebels’ eastern
State television said rebels had been ousted from the port and
airport of Es-Sider, another oil terminus about 40 km. up the coast west of Ras
The US Defense Department said it was preparing a “full range” of
military options for Libya, including a no-fly zone.
NATO and EU
officials were to weigh up options at the start of a two-day round of talks on
Thursday in Brussels. Military officers said a zone could be set up
A no-fly zone could also help protect civilians who have been
caught in the fighting, with scores if not more people reported killed so far in
cities such as Zawiyah. A burgeoning humanitarian emergency could hasten a
In Geneva, the International Committee of the Red Cross
said Libya had descended into civil war with increasing numbers of wounded
civilians arriving in hospitals in the east.
Gen. Raymond Odierno,
commander of the US Joint Forces Command, said the American military was
probably capable of establishing a no-fly zone over Libya “within a couple of
days” if the international community so decided.
Secretary of State
Hillary Clinton has made it clear imposing a no-fly zone is a matter for the
United Nations and should not be a US-led initiative. Clinton said Thursday the
US had stopped working with Libya’s embassy in Washington. “We are suspending
our relationship,” she said, “so we expect them to end operations as the embassy
Russia said military intervention would be unacceptable, but
acted to help isolate Gaddafi by banning all weapons sales to Libya, effectively
suspending major arms contracts with his government.