Belfast Telegraph

Home News World

Gaddafi: Tribes will not surrender

Muammar Gaddafi has been quoted as warning that tribes loyal to him in key strongholds are armed and won't surrender to Libyan rebels, a blow to opposition hopes of a peaceful surrender of the ousted leader's hometown of Sirte.

The Syrian-based Al-Rai TV, which has previously broadcast several audio statements by Gaddafi and his sons, comes as the rebels who have seized control of most of the country extended by a week a deadline for the surrender of Sirte - originally set for Saturday.

Rebels have been hunting for the Libyan leader since he was forced into hiding after they swept into Tripoli on August 20 and gained control of most of the capital after days of fierce fighting.

Gaddafi's voice was not heard, but Al-Rai reported he would issue a statement in which he vows "we won't surrender again; we are not women; we will keep fighting."

Rebel forces, backed by Nato airstrikes, have been advancing toward three regime strongholds: Sirte; the town of Bani Walid, 90 miles south-east of Tripoli; and Sabha, in the southern desert. All three places had been given a deadline of Saturday to surrender. While the deadline extension was officially only for Sirte, rebels said it would also include Bani Walid and Sabha.

There has been speculation that Gaddafi is hiding in one of those three towns.

Al-Rai quoted him as saying the tribes in Sirte and Bani Walid are armed and "there is no way they will submit." He called for continued resistance, warning "the battle will be long and let Libya burn."

Gaddafi was last heard on August 25 in an audio recording calling on supporters to defend Tripoli. The reported comments came on the 42nd anniversary of the coup that brought Gaddafi to power.

"The regime is dying," rebel council spokesman Abdel-Hafiz Ghoga said last night, after two of Gaddafi's sons made conflicting statements on Arab television stations - with one vowing to fight until death and the other offering to negotiate a truce. "Gaddafi's family is trying to find an exit," Ghoga said. "They only have to surrender completely to the rebels and we will offer them a fair trial. We won't hold negotiations with them over anything."

Mr Ghoga said the rebels had extended the deadline for Sirte's surrender, giving the loyalist forces there one more week. "There are good indications that things are moving in the right direction," he said, including that the rebels have captured a city near Sirte.

Popular

From Belfast Telegraph