Libyan Anti-Gadhafi Forces Poised to Attack Gadhafi Stronghold

Posted September 4th, 2011 at 2:40 pm (UTC-5)
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Libyan anti-Gadhafi fighters say they are poised to lay siege to Bani Walid, one of the remaining strongholds of former leader Moammar Gadhafi. The anti-Gadhafi fighters said Sunday they are ready to attack.

The Libyan National Transitional Council has urged civilians in areas still held by pro-Gadhafi forces to come over to its side, vowing Saturday that no revenge would be taken.

The NTC has extended a deadline for all opponents to lay down arms until next Saturday. NTC officials hope that they can avoid laying siege to civilian areas.

In Italy Sunday, Foreign Minister Franco Frattini warned against a full-scale purging of Gadhafi-era military officials, urging Libya and the international community not to repeat the same “big mistake” it did in Iraq. The United States and Iraq dismantled the army there after the fall of Saddam Hussein in 2003, putting many Iraqis on the streets and sending some into the insurgency.

Frattini also stressed the importance of preventing any infiltration by extremists into the new Libyan government.

NTC leader Mustafa Abdel Jalil said Saturday in Benghazi his forces are in a “position of strength” and can enter any city, but that they want to avoid bloodshed. He said now is the time for Gadhafi loyalists in Sirte, Bani Walid and several other locations to peacefully surrender.

Turkey's ambassador to the new Libya, Ali Kemal Aydin, called on Moammar Gadhafi to give up to avoid further bloodshed, adding the ousted leader should surrender to the justice of the Libyan people.

Also Saturday, U.N. envoy Ian Martin arrived in Tripoli for talks with the NTC on Libya's future.