Libyan rebels expect 'major strikes by coalition'

20th April 2011, Comments 0 comments

Libyan rebels expect "major strikes by the coalition" against forces loyal to strongman Moamer Kadhafi, their leader told French TV Wednesday after meeting with French President Nicolas Sarkozy.

"We are sure that Kadhafi will be overthrown sooner or later, but we want it to be as soon as possible," Mustafa Abdel Jalil told French television.

Asked whether the conflict would be won by force or negotiation, Jalil told France 24: "We expect there to be major strikes by the coalition, then Libyans can reach a solution."

"The longer he stays the more blood will be spilled," said Jalil, who heads Libya's National Transitional Council (NTC).

"International strikes and the air exclusion zone (decided after UN Security Council Resolution 1973) contributed to the protection of civilians and the success of this revolution," the former justice minister said.

"The process is slow, but what the coalition has achieved is very important for us," he added during a visit to Paris.

On Tuesday, rebels controlling the western town of Misrata asked for Western ground troops to help them.

Asked whether he backed the request, Jalil was cryptic, saying: "We at the NTC represent the Libyan people, we are not independent of this people.... What the people ask, we ask."

Earlier Wednesday, Jalil met with Sarkozy for 45 minutes and invited him to visit the rebel stronghold of Benghazi in eastern Libya.

Sarkozy's office said it had "taken note" of Jalil's invitation, which came as France announced it had sent some military advisers to help the embattled rebellion against Kadhafi's regime.

Jalil also told France 24 that the rebels acquired weapons either by buying them with "Libyan money" or they were supplied by "friends" that he could not identify.

"Indeed, we have received some weapons, but they are not enough," he said.

He said the role of Qatar, one of three countries along with France and Italy to have recognised the NTC, in the arms delivery was "very limited".

Qatar and the United Arab Emirates were the only Arab states to participate in military operations in Libya despite the Arab League's support for a no-fly zone to prevent Kadhafi from harming civilians.

Last week, Qatar hosted a meeting of the International Contact Group on Libya, and attracted a riposte from the Tripoli government, which accused the emirate of supplying anti-tank missiles to rebels.

© 2011 AFP

0 Comments To This Article