Defiant Gadhafi Vows Victory as Rebels Advance

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  • W460
  • W460
  • W460

A beleaguered Moammar Gadhafi urged supporters Sunday to "march by the millions" and quash a months-long uprising, as strong explosions rocked Tripoli amid fighting between rebels and regime supporters.

The blasts were heard shortly after 4:00 am (0200 GMT) in the heart of the city as NATO warplanes flew overhead, an AFP journalist said. The targets were not immediately identifiable but witnesses reported clashes in several quarters between insurgents and Gadhafi supporters.

There was also sustained gunfire in the city.

The strongman's appeal came as rebels closed in on Tripoli and claimed his 42-year rule was on its last legs.

"We have to put an end to this masquerade. You must march by the millions to free the destroyed towns" controlled by rebels he labeled as "traitors" and "rats."

"These scum enter mosques to cry 'God is great.' They are dirty. They are defiling the mosques," Gadhafi said in an audio message carried on state television.

Earlier, a Tripoli resident said cries of "Allahu Akbar" could be heard from mosques in the city's eastern sectors.

Gadhafi accused French President Nicolas Sarkozy, whose country is helping lead NATO-coordinated air strikes on the strongman's military assets, of recruiting the rebels as "agents" to steal Libya's vast oil wealth.

"To win the upcoming elections, he wants to be able to say to his people: 'Here, I'm offering you Libyan oil' and this is going to be achieved with the help of traitors.

"But the Libyan people will not allow France to take its oil or leave Libya to the hands of traitors," he said.

As blasts and gunfire rocked Tripoli after the break of the dawn-to-dusk fast of Ramadan and witnesses reported fighting in the eastern neighborhoods of Soug Jomaa, Arada and Tajura, the government insisted it was in charge of the city.

"The situation is under control," Information Minister Moussa Ibrahim said, adding that pro-regime volunteers had repelled insurgent attacks in several neighborhoods.

Ibrahim dismissed mounting speculation that the regime was on the brink as a "media attack," but more gunfire was heard after he spoke on television.

In his eastern stronghold of Benghazi, Libyan rebel chief Mustafa Abdel Jalil claimed that victory was within reach, six months after the insurgency was launched.

Celebrations broke out in the early morning hours as residents feted what they claimed was the imminent collapse of Gadhafi's rule.

"We have contacts with people from the inner circle of Gadhafi," said the chairman of the rebel National Transitional Council (NTC). "All evidence (shows) that the end is very near, with God's grace."

Abdel Jalil was speaking to reporters as a flurry of rumors suggested that Gadhafi was preparing to flee Libya.

He predicted a "catastrophic" end for Gadhafi and his inner circle, along with turmoil in Tripoli.

Jubilant rebels celebrated their capture of the strategic eastern oil hub of Brega, a day after saying they had seized Zawiyah and Zliten, two other key towns.

However, rebel Colonel Ahmed Omar Bani said retreating Gadhafi forces shelled Brega's industrial zone on Saturday and that his men had pulled back to its eastern edge to avoid unnecessary casualties and property damage.

In Sabratah, around 50 kilometers (30 miles) west of Tripoli, rebels rejoiced at their camp's latest advances and waited for a chance to take part in an offensive on the capital.

While the rebels' pincer movement on the capital intensified, another sign of the regime's frailty came as fighters said former premier Abdessalam Jalloud, a popular figure who fell out of favor with the Libyan strongman in the mid-1990s, had defected and joined their ranks.

Yet both they and the regime downplayed the significance of his departure, after he reportedly flew to Italy from neighboring Tunisia with his family.

Meanwhile, Gadhafi's son Seif al-Islam said in a speech aired Sunday that the regime would not "abandon the fight," as rebels closed in on Tripoli and there was fighting and explosions in the city.

"We have a long breath. We are in our land and in our country. We will resist for six months, one year, two years ... and we will win," he said in the speech broadcast on state television, which said it was made a day earlier.

"We will not submit, we will not abandon the fight," he said. "This is not the decision of Seif al-Islam or Gadhafi but the decision of the Libyan people.

He said the Gadhafi family "has paid the price, like all Libyans," and urged rebels to launch talks, saying: "If you want peace, we are ready."

Four strong explosions rocked the center of Tripoli early Sunday. Witnesses also reported clashes in several quarters between insurgents and Gadhafi supporters.

Comments 2
Thumb benzona 21 August 2011, 08:11

Good God, the guy ran out of pills! quickly, can anyone supply him with lithium?

Default-user-icon George Haddad (Guest) 21 August 2011, 10:40

I can't wait to see this rat catptured and hanged like Saddam. This little person who killed thousand of his people to remain in power. I think his time is running out and his fate is dire if he doesn't manage to abscond to another neighboring country like Kuba or Venzula. I also hope that other dictators learn a leason from this and heed the cries of their people. In these days, its not acceptable killing people for retaining power. Only through the ballot at election time would a person be elected as president for a term based on his performance towards the people. Time has gone when one person and his family members could govern countries consisting of millions without accountability.