Libya’s Rebels Give 4-Day Ultimatum to Gadhafi Forces

Posted August 30th, 2011 at 10:05 am (UTC-5)
Leave a comment

Libya's opposition Transitional National Council has announced a four-day deadline for forces loyal to Moammar Gadhafi in his hometown of Sirte to surrender.

TNC leader Mustafa Abdel Jalil said Tuesday in the rebel-stronghold of Benghazi that rebels will resort to military action in Sirte if they get no indication by Saturday of a peaceful end to the conflict there. Rebels say they are bracing for a final battle to gain control of most of their country.

Mr. Gadhafi has not been seen since rebel fighters seized the capital, Tripoli, last week, and Sirte is considered one area where he may be hiding.

Rebel forces have drawn closer to Sirte and NATO has carried out airstrikes against radar sites, missile systems and armed vehicles.

NATO's Colonel Roland Lavoie told reporters Tuesday the alliance is aware of negotiations going on between pro- and anti-Gadhafi forces in Mr. Gadhafi's hometown.

He said Mr. Gadhafi remains a “global threat” and “continues to threaten the overall population of Libya.” He added that Mr. Gadhafi still displays the ability to command and control military forces and weapons and has shown “no intent to retreat peacefully and call his forces off hostilities.”

Earlier, rebel leaders in Libya demanded authorities in Algeria extradite Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi's wife and three of his children, after the group entered Algeria early Monday.

The Algerian Foreign Ministry announced that Mr. Gadhafi's wife Safiya, daughter Aisha, and two of his sons, Mohammad and Hannibal, had all crossed into the country by car. They said the spouses of the Libyan leader's children and their offspring had also arrived.

Officials in Algiers said they reported the information to the United Nations Secretary-General and Libya's opposition TNC. Rebel officials have previously accused Algeria – Libya's only North African neighbor that has not recognized the council – of backing Mr. Gadhafi and providing him with mercenaries to suppress the revolt. Algeria has denied the charge.

Also, a U.S. human rights group says it has uncovered evidence of possible war crimes by pro-Gadhafi forces in Misrata.

Physicians for Human Rights said in a report released Tuesday that forces loyal to Mr. Gadhafi carried out murder, torture, rape and forced internment. The report says the troops forced civilians to act as a human shields to guard military munitions from NATO attacks, and blocked civilians from receiving humanitarian aid.

The group said its findings are based on interviews in Misrata in June, and said it was unable to confirm allegations against rebel fighters and NATO made by Gadhafi officials. It also calls on the TNC to establish rule of law in Libya to prevent further bloodshed, and to fully cooperate with the International Criminal Court.

The World Food Program said Tuesday it is sending 600 metric tons of food to Tripoli along with other urgent supplies, including water, medicine and fuel to help people affected by the fighting. The group says the food will be distributed by the Libyan Red Crescent and help feed 35,000 people for one month.

Leaders from governments backing NATO operations over Libya are meeting in Paris Thursday to discuss ways to help Libyans now that the opposition has gained control over most of the country. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is among those who will attend the talks.