Libya's deputy foreign minister has accused Nato of intensifying its bombing campaign and backing foreign mercenaries to lay the groundwork for an advance by rebels trying to topple Muammar Gaddafi's regime.
Khaled Kaim said the alliance's increased bombings represented the "final phase" of the air campaign, but he said the push would fail and that civilians would be the ones to pay the price.
Kaim said Nato targeted police checkpoints in the Nafusa mountains south west of Tripoli ahead of a rebel advance towards the village of Qawalish, which rebel fighters claimed they seized on Wednesday. They were later pushed back by government troops, he said.
A fuel depot in the key eastern oil town of Brega was also destroyed, Kaim said. Nato said it hit equipment used to refuel government military vehicles.
The stepped-up campaign, he said, was focused on targeting civilian infrastructure and police checkpoints and providing additional weapons to rebel fighters.
"The aim of these attacks is to help the rebels to advance. But I assure you, it will be another failure for them," he said in an interview with The Associated Press.
Kaim also said Libyan forces had evidence that Colombian mercenaries funded by the West and its Arab allies had joined the rebel fighters trying to advance towards the capital Tripoli from the western rebel-held city of Misrata.
Some of the Colombian fighters had been killed in clashes near Misrata on Wednesday, he said.
While Kaim was not immediately able to provide evidence to substantiate the allegation, he said it would soon be shown to journalists based in Tripoli.
Nato began air strikes against Libya in March. The coalition and its Arab allies are operating under a United Nations mandate to protect civilians.