Libya’s Gadhafi Urges Loyalists to Resist Tripoli Rebels

Posted August 25th, 2011 at 5:25 pm (UTC-5)
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Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi has urged his supporters to rise up and defeat the rebels trying to oust him from power.

In a short audio broadcast Thursday, he described his opponents as “rats” and denounced foreign countries for their involvement in the conflict.

His speech came as fierce gunbattles between pro-Gadhafi forces and opposition fighters erupted in at least two areas of the capital, Tripoli.

In the Abu Salim neighborhood, a pro-Gadhafi stronghold, rebels have been conducting raids in search of Gadhafi loyalists. Witnesses reported hearing a barrage of gunfire outside of the Corinthia hotel, where many foreign journalists are staying.

Opposition fighters have been pouring into Tripoli to help combat the remnants of pro-Gadhafi forces and were reportedly advancing toward the Libyan leader's hometown of Sirte, where his loyalists have been massing for a showdown.

Mr. Gadhafi's whereabouts is unknown, but U.S. officials believe he is still in Libya.

Meanwhile, British Defense Minister Liam Fox said Thursday NATO is helping rebels in their hunt for Mr. Gadhafi and members of his regime. Fox said NATO is providing the rebels with intelligence and reconnaissance equipment to aid in their search. However, NATO spokeswoman Oana Lungescu said the alliance does not target individuals.

In Washington, the State Department said it believes Libya's stockpiles of mustard gas and a low-enriched uranium called yellowcake are secure. Spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said the United States monitors these stockpiles through its “national technical means” and that Libya no longer has the means to turn the yellowcake into fissile material for bombs. She added, however, that shoulder-fired missiles known as “MANPADS” remain a concern.

Also Thursday, foreign correspondents in Tripoli viewed the bodies of at least 15 men who appeared to have been executed. It was not clear who killed them.

In other development, TNC leader Mahmoud Jibril — on a visit to Italy — has called for “urgent” financial help, saying the money is needed to pay the salaries of Libyans and deliver basic services to civilians. Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi said his country was ready to unfreeze up to $505 million in Libyan assets.

Meanwhile, Mr. Gadhafi's one-time close associate, Abdel Salam Jalloud, said he was in talks with opposition forces to create a new political party. Jalloud, who fled Tripoli for Italy last week, said the new party will be a nationalist, liberal and secular party.

He said he did not know Mr. Gadhafi's whereabouts, but thought that the embattled Libyan leader was hiding either in Tripoli, on the Algerian border, or in his hometown of Sirte, heading eventually for the desert, possibly dressed as a woman.

Meanwhile, the International Organization for Migration said it began evacuating foreigners who wanted to leave Tripoli. The group said Thursday that about 200 people boarded a ship docked near the capital.