lunedì 12 settembre 2011

Qaddafi vows to keep fighting Libyan rebels

alla fine del'articolo un riepilogo "visivo" dell'evoluzione della guerra in Libia

TRIPOLI, Libya - Fugitive leader Muammar Qaddafi accused revolutionary forces of surrendering Libya to foreign influence and vowed to press ahead with his resistance in a message Monday issued just hours after a twin attack on a key oil facility by loyalist fighters. At least 15 attackers were killed, an anti-Qaddafi commander said.
"We will not be ruled after we were the masters," said the brief statement attributed to Qaddafi that was read on Syria's Al-Rai TV by its owner Mishan al-Jabouri, a former Iraqi lawmaker and Qaddafi supporter.
The message described the opposition forces as "traitors" who are willing to turn over Libya's oil riches to foreign interests.
"We will not hand Libya to colonialism, once again, as the traitors want," said the statement, which pledged to fight against the "coup."
The firebrand words by Qaddafi contrast sharply with the staggering losses for his regime in recent weeks, including being driven from the capital Tripoli and left with only a handful of strongholds that are surrounded by former rebel forces.
Qaddafi's whereabouts are unknown, but his followers claim he is still in Libya. Some of his family members have fled to neighboring Niger, most recently his son al-Saadi.
Although Qaddafi's opponents now hold sway over most of Libya — and remain backed by NATO airstrikes — there are signs that the Libyan strongman's backers can still strike back.
At the important oil terminal at Ras Lanuf, suspected loyalist staged back-to-back attacks that began with saboteurs setting fires and then shifted to a convoy of gunmen riding in from the desert.
Col. Hamid al-Hasi, the commander for anti-Qaddafi forces in eastern Libya, said a group of 15 employees set fire to the facility, located on the Mediterranean coast about 380 miles southeast of Tripoli. He said five of the saboteurs were killed and the rest arrested.
In a possibly coordinated attack, the port was then targeted by a convoy of armed men apparently based in a refugee camp about 18 miles south of Ras Lanuf. One revolutionary commander, Fadl-Allah Haroun, said a total of 15 people were killed in both attacks.
The size of the ground assault force was unclear, but Haroun said it may have been as big as 40 vehicles.
Former rebels, meanwhile, have been facing stiff resistance from Qaddafi supporters in Bani Walid since last week and have captured most of the northern half of the town, which is one of three significant remaining bastions of Qaddafi's loyalists.
Dozens of cars loaded with Libyan families and personal belongings streamed out of the town, about 90 miles southeast of Tripoli, in anticipation of a fresh assault.
"The fighting will be very bad," said Fadila Salim as she drove out of Bani Walid. Her son, Mohammed Ibrahim, said there is no electricity, no water and shops are running out of food. He says many are "stuck in their houses and afraid to leave."
Khairiyah al-Mahdi, a 40-year-old housewife, was fleeing the town along with her husband, six daughters and two sons.
She said her house was among the first to fly the revolution's tricolor flag when Libyan fighters pushed into Bani Walid over the weekend. But deteriorating living conditions, threats from Qaddafi supporters and heavy clashes in the town prompted her family to flee.
"We left Bani Walid because Qaddafi loyalists in control of the local radio announced through airwaves that anyone helping the rebels or part of them will be killed," she said. "A lot of people are scared and now leaving."
The main battle front in Bani Walid is now a bridge that links the town with the port city of Misrata to the northwest. Qaddafi loyalists have covered the pavement with oil slicks and fuel spills to hinder vehicles trying to cross into the city center.
A rebel commander, Abu Oujaila al-Hawaishi, said Qaddafi snipers have taken up positions on roof tops, including on a hotel, an ancient castle and an administrative building in the town center. Loyalist forces also fired Grad rockets and mortars at revolutionary fighters on the northern edge of Bani Walid, where al-Hawaishi said some 2,000 former rebels have gathered.
NATO, which has played a key role in crippling Qaddafi's military forces since intervening in Libya's civil war in late March, has kept up its attacks on remaining pro-Qaddafi sites. The military alliance said its warplanes hit targets Sunday in Qaddafi's hometown of Sirte, including a military logistics facility and three surface-to-air missile systems.
The Misrata Military Council said clashes inside Sirte between Qaddafi loyalists and opposition backers has left at least three people dead.

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