Battle for Sirte Rages as Gadhafi Warns NTC’s Foreign Supporters

Posted October 6th, 2011 at 9:45 pm (UTC-5)
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Fighters loyal to Moammar Gadhafi are holding back government forces trying to capture his hometown, as the deposed leader warned that heads of the developing world, who have recognized Libya's new rulers, would face a similar fate to his own.

Loyalist snipers blocked the advance of anti-Gadhafi forces Thursday, making forecasts of a quick end to the battle for Sirte look premature.

National Transitional Council commanders had predicted they will have the city under their full control within the next few days. They pledged that units on Sirte's outskirts would be brought into the fight soon in a coordinated offensive.

Meanwhile, in an audio message broadcast Thursday, Mr. Gadhafi warned leaders in developing nations now backing Libya's interim government to be ready for NATO allies to create other councils that could replace them “one by one.”

Mr. Gadhafi called for Libyans to turn out by the “millions” in protest against the provisional government that unseated him. His message was broadcast by Syria's al-Rai television.

U.S. State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said it was not surprising that what she called Syria's “authoritarian regime” was trying to aid a “dictator” who did not know his time is over.

Mr. Gadhafi's whereabouts are unknown and it is not clear when the message was recorded. It was his first known message since mid-September.

In another development, U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said NATO defense ministers are analyzing security conditions in Libya in order to determine when to end the allied bombing campaign.

He commented from Brussels on Thursday, shortly before a two-day NATO meeting wrapped up.

Earlier Thursday, French Defense Minister Gerard Longuet said the NATO air campaign in Libya would continue as long as there were pockets of resistance and until the provisional government asks for the airstrikes to end.