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Mixed messages in Gaddafi camp

Ousted dictator Muammar Gaddafi's sons were divided last night as they gave out mixed messages to the world - one vowing to fight to the death against Libyan rebels and the other trying to negotiate his own surrender.

A man claiming to be Gaddafi's son - Saif al-Islam - told a television station that nobody will surrender.

But his brother Al-Saadi took a softer tone and phoned a rebel commander in Tripoli to try to work out how he might give up.

Al-Saadi later told Al Arabiya TV that his father has no objection to handing power over to the interim National Transitional Council (NTC). He called for talks and a truce to end the bloodshed.

"As far as I am concerned, I will not carry guns against any Libyan person. I urge the warring parties to lay down their weapons," Saadi told Al Arabiya by phone from an undisclosed location in Libya.

"If surrendering myself will end the bloodshed, I am ready to do so, but I do not represent only myself, and in order for achieving a peaceful resolution to the crisis we should sit down with each other and negotiate."

Rebel leader Abdel Hakim Belhaj said: "We told him, 'Don't fear for your life. We will guarantee your rights as a human being, and will deal with you humanely'."

If the offer is confirmed - the rebels have previously claimed to have captured Saif, who hours later turned up free - the surrender would be a major blow to Gaddafi's crumbling regime.

Just minutes after Saadi's offer, a defiant Saif - who referred to the rebels as "rats" - said he was speaking from the suburbs outside Tripoli and insisted his father is fine.

"We would like to assure people that we are steadfast and the commander is doing well," he said.

Saif said the fight is still alive and "victory is close". He also said that "resistance is continuing", and "we are coming soon to liberate (Tripoli's) Green Square" with 20,000 armed youths who will "fight to the death".

"We will soon come to the Green Square to salute you, God willing," he added.

The rebels have been pressing toward Gaddafi's last major stronghold, his hometown of Sirte, and loyalists now only control a handful of major cities.

Mr Belhaj said Al-Saadi told him he had not killed anyone, and that "he was not against the people".

"I told him, 'This is good. What is important for us is not to shed Libyan blood. For the members of the regime to surrender is the best way to do this'."

The commander said he knows al-Saadi's whereabouts, but prefers to negotiate a surrender.

In another fillip for the rebel administration, the RAF yesterday flew £950m to the Transitional National Council after a freeze on Libyan state assets was lifted by the UN. The cash, which was printed as about 1.8bn Libyan dinars, has been delivered to the Central Bank in Tripoli.

There were also reports that Gaddafi's Foreign Minister, Abdelati Obeidi, had been captured by the rebels.

There has been speculation that Colonel Gaddafi is seeking refuge in Sirte or one of the other remaining regime strongholds, among them the towns of Bani Walid or Sabha. Top rebel officials say they have "a good idea" where Gaddafi is hiding, but have not given any details.

Belfast Telegraph


From Belfast Telegraph