Gaddafi loyalists defiant as Libyan NTC makes int'l gains

UN recognizes Libya's interim gov't and lifts sanctions to ease transition, but Gaddafi spokesman says "battle far from over."

September 17, 2011 02:18
2 minute read.
Anti-Gaddafi forces assault Bani Walid stronghold

Libya Bani Walid 311. (photo credit: REUTERS)


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Muammar Gaddafi loyalists have inflicted heavy losses on fighters of Libya's new rulers in Bani Walid and are prepared for a long fight, a spokesman for Gaddafi said on Friday in audio comments broadcast on a Syria-based television station.

"The battle is far from over," Moussa Ibrahim told Arrai television. "We have prepared ourselves for a long war. We have the equipment and the weapons," he said.

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Many anti-Gaddafi fighters were killed or captured in Bani Walid, he said, without giving precise figures.

Gaddafi loyalists in Bani Walid forced them to retreat under barrages of rockets and mortars, while in Gaddafi's home town of Sirte on the coast, National Transitional Council forces closed in on pockets of resistance scattered across the city.

"We assure everybody that the Sirte and Bani Walid fronts are strong, despite the heavy, unbelievable and merciless NATO bombardment on hospitals, families and schools," he said.

The fighting came as the National Transitional Council made political gains internationally with the UN General Assembly approving a Libyan request to accredit envoys of the country's interim government as Tripoli's sole representatives at the world body, effectively recognizing the National Transitional Council.

In addition, the UN Security Council on Friday eased sanctions on Libya, including on its national oil company and central bank, to enable key institutions to recover after the civil war.

The 15-nation council voted unanimously for a resolution that also establishes a UN mission in Libya to help the North African nation get back on its feet after the overthrow of Muammar Gaddafi.

The resolution begins lifting punitive measures imposed on the oil-exporting country six months ago when Gaddafi was overseeing a crackdown against pro-democracy demonstrators.

Both actions "make clear the international community's determination to support the new Libyan authorities, and the Libyan people," British Foreign Secretary William Hague said in a statement.

An arms embargo will remain in place, but Libya's interim government and the United Nations will be allowed to import light weapons to maintain security.

The resolution establishes a UN mission in Libya, which diplomats say will consist of up to 200 people in an initial three-month phase to help the government with a post-conflict transition. Their tasks are expected to include police training and electoral assistance, UN officials say.

The resolution does not call, however, for the deployment of peacekeepers or police as part of the new UN Support Mission in Libya.

Nor does it call for an end to the no-fly zone a March resolution imposed over the country, although diplomats say Libyan civil airliners will be allowed to fly provided they notify monitors of their flight plans.

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