Britain Says NATO Aiding Hunt for Gadhafi

Posted August 25th, 2011 at 4:30 am (UTC-5)
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Britain says NATO is helping Libyan rebels in their hunt for leader Moammar Gadhafi and members of his regime, as the opposition offers a reward for Mr. Gadhafi's capture.

British Defense Minister Liam Fox told Britain's Sky News Thursday that NATO is providing the rebels with intelligence and reconnaissance equipment to aid in their search for the embattled leader.

Opposition forces now claim to control 90 percent of the country, but Mr. Gadhafi's whereabouts remain a mystery. U.S. officials say they believe he is still in Libya.

Transitional National Council leader Mustafa Abdel Jalil said Wednesday his opposition group supports a decision by local businessmen to provide a $1.67 million reward in an attempt to speed up Mr. Gadhafi's capture.

Jalil said the council wants Mr. Gadhafi tried in Libya and not at the International Criminal Court in the Hague. Colonel Gadhafi is wanted by the ICC on war crimes charges.

Libyan rebels consolidated their hold on the capital, Tripoli, and other parts of the country Wednesday as pockets of pro-Gadhafi loyalists put up fierce resistance.

Pro-Gadhafi forces fired mortar rounds into the Bab al-Aziziya compound in Tripoli, one day after rebel fighters captured the former Gadhafi headquarters. Heavy fighting also continued around Tripoli's airport, which the opposition says is in its hands, as well as in Zuara, a town west of Tripoli, and near Mr. Gadhafi's hometown of Sirte.

Meanwhile, the TNC began moving some of its ministries from Benghazi in the east to Tripoli. Jalil also announced that elections will be held in eight months.

In an interview Wednesday from Benghazi, TNC member Abobakr Ba'are said that, in the post-Gadhafi era, the council plans to establish security, meet the basic needs of the Libyan people and then begin work on creating what he called a “transitional” parliament.

Also Wednesday, a pro-government television channel quoted Mr. Gadhafi as saying his retreat from his Tripoli compound was a “tactical move,” following dozens of NATO airstrikes. Al-Rai TV reported that Mr. Gadhafi addressed Libyans on a local radio station, saying he vowed martyrdom or victory in his fight against what he called NATO aggression.