Entries in Rebel Forces (39)


Top US Official: Gadhafi Regime 'Absolutely' Past Tipping Point

Salah Malkawi/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Sunday night, President Obama said Moammar Gadhafi's regime is at a "tipping point."  And on Monday morning, the top U.S. diplomat on the ground went even further, telling ABC's chief political correspondent George Stephanopoulos that the 42-year rule is "absolutely" past the tipping point.

“What’s clear is that the wind [is] in the sails of the rebels, that the rebels are winning, that it’s only a matter of time now before Gadhafi has to step down, before Gadhafi loses the entire country,” Assistant Secretary of State Jeffrey Feltman said on ABC's Good Morning America.

ABC News spoke to Feltman as news broke that the rebels now control 95 percent of Tripoli.  He said until Gadhafi takes steps to prove he has resigned, no one will negotiate with him for safe passage out of the country.

Feltman said the U.S. doesn’t know where Gadhafi is but that “almost doesn’t matter.”

“The rebels are clearly taking over the city, taking over the institutions, we just got reports that they have taken over state television,” he said.  “[Gadhafi] has become, for all intents and purposes, part of Libya’s past and now people need to look to build Libya’s better future.”

Feltman spent the past several days with rebel officials in Benghazi talking about what a post-Gadhafi Libya would look like.  The first thing the rebel leaders have done is reiterate a message of no retribution.

“They clearly have thought through how to make sure to avoid a cycle of revenge killings and to make sure essential services continue to be delivered.  We’ll see what happens in practice on the ground of course, one can’t really predict this,” Feltman said.  “But they are, they have worked through the scenarios and have maintained and nurtured contacts inside Tripoli to help preserve security and stability in the capitol.”

When asked if the chaos that followed the fall of Sadaam Hussein in Iraq could be avoided in Libya, Feltman said they are working on minimizing that potential risk but can’t predict anything -- including if the new leaders would form an alliance with al Qaeda or other enemies of the United States.

“I think the assassination of Abdel Fattah Younis, the chief of staff a few weeks ago, highlighted the dangers of some of the Islamic elements inside the fighting militias of Libya and people are definitely pushing back against that in order to ensure that a moderate, secular Libya is the one that emerges from 42 years of Gadhafi tyranny,” he said.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Libyan Rebels Getting Closer to Tripoli

ROBERTO SCHMIDT/AFP/Getty Images(TRIPOLI, Libya) -- There's news out of Libya that rebels are getting closer to the capital of Tripoli, the stronghold of Col. Moammar Gadhafi.

The fight for control of Libya has been going for months, with neither government troops nor anti-government forces relenting.  Gadhafi, who's been in power for 40 years, refuses to cede that power despite NATO pummeling that has devastated much his arsenal.

However, the latest rebel stand in the city of Zawiya -- just 30 miles west of Tripoli -- could signal a turning point in the civil war.  Rebel fighters briefly held Zawiya earlier in the year but were driven back by Gadhafi loyalists.

Since the city is a gateway to Tunisia, should anti-government forces finally gain control of Zawiya and hold onto it, Gadhafi would no longer have direct contact to governments outside of Libya, further isolating him.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Hillary Clinton Confident that Gadhafi's Days Are 'Numbered'

MAHMUD TURKIA/AFP/Getty Images(ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates) -- Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says that Col. Moammar Gadhafi's days as Libya's leader "are numbered" and that his aides are working behind the scenes with other countries to facilitate his departure from power.

America's top envoy made the declaration at a donors meeting in Abu Dhabi as nations sympathetic to the cause of anti-Gadhafi rebels pledged $1.3 billion in assistance.

The U.S. contribution to date has been $81 million.  That includes the $26.5 million in humanitarian assistance pledged Thursday.

While appreciative of the donations, opposition leaders contend there's a big difference about what's been pledged and the actual money received by rebels in their desperate fight to drive Gadhafi from power.

NATO first established a no-fly zone over Libya in late March and has lately stepped up attacks on Gadhafi's compound in Libya and other strategic targets.

Clinton praised NATO's commitment to extend the mission 90 days past the end of June, saying, "We're pleased to receive British and French troops to our arsenal, all bravely standing against Libyan forces, which are unfortunately renewing their assaults."

Still, she said that, "We have good reasons to believe that time is on our side so long as we can sustain pressure."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Libya Opposition Rep Responds to Obama's Middle East Speech

Alex Wong/Getty Images(WASHIGNTON) -- Moments after attending President Obama’s speech on the Middle East and North Africa at the State Department Thursday, the former Libyan Ambassador to the U.S., Ali Suleiman Aujali, gave a speech of his own on an elusive topic: What is next for Libya?

Aujali resigned as Libyan President Moammar Gadhafi’s ambassador to the U.S. in February, quickly becoming instead the U.S. representative for the Libyan rebels, who have been battling Gadhafi's forces with mixed success since February.

Speaking Thursday at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington, D.C., Aujali reiterated his call for the U.S. to recognize his group, the Transitional National Council, as the new official government of Libya.  Recognition by the United States, said Aujali, “would give us the credibility to deal with the international community.”

But in Thursday’s much anticipated speech on the Middle East, President Obama would only go so far as to state that the Libyan “opposition has organized a legitimate and credible interim council.”

In addition to official recognition, the Transitional Council seeks access to Gadhafi’s frozen assets currently being held in the U.S., worth about $34 billion.

Despite the difficulties that lie ahead for the Libyan opposition, Aujali seemed nevertheless heartened by its successes.

“For the first time in 42 years,” he said with tears in his eyes, “Libyans -- myself included -- can be proud of our country.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Report: NATO Friendly Fire Kills 12 Anti-Gadhafi Rebels

Paul Tearle/Thinkstock(MISRATA, Libya) -- Officials confirmed Thursday that 12 Libyan rebels were mistakenly killed near the town of Misrata Wednesday as the result of a NATO airstrike, the Los Angeles Times reports.

ABC News Radio reported Wednesday that NATO was planning to step up attacks on Moammar Gadhafi's forces, with the goal to paralyze Gadhafi's ability to lead his military.

After at least three reported friendly fire incidents since NATO began targeting Gadhafi's regime to protect Libyan civilians, the Los Angeles Times reports that those leading the anti-Gadhafi forces maintain their support for the NATO strikes.  They have said the incidents are "unfortunate accidents in a worthy cause."

Both NATO and rebel forces have agreed that additional measures -- such as marking rebel vehicles and reporting rebel positions to NATO -- will be enforced to prevent friendly fire casualties from happening again.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio 


UK Sending Military Advisory Team to Help Libyan Opposition

MAHMUD HAMS/AFP/Getty Images(LONDON) -- Britain's National Security Council announced Tuesday it will expand its personnel in Libya, sending an additional military liaison advisory team to work with the opposition there.

The added team will be "drawn from experienced British military officers" and will join a U.K. diplomatic team already working with the Libyan National Transition Council in Benghazi.

"These additional personnel will enable the U.K. to build on the work already being undertaken to support and advise the NTC on how to better protect civilians," the Foreign and Commonwealth Office said in a statement.  "In particular they will advise the NTC on how to improve their military organisational structures, communications and logistics, including how best to distribute humanitarian aid and deliver medical assistance.

Britain said the military team will not be involved in training or providing weapons for rebel forces fighting off those loyal to Moammar Gadhafi.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Libya Fighting May Be at a Stalemate

ROBERTO SCHMIDT/AFP/Getty Images(TRIPOLI, Libya) -- Fighting between rebel forces and troops loyal to Moammar Gadhafi continued in Libya Sunday, but experts say ultimate control of the country appears to be at a stalemate, with neither side able to launch a strong enough military operation to eliminate the opposition.

Observers say the approaching heat of summer in the desert will make it harder for rebel forces to take and hold cities in Western Libya that are separated by vast distances.  However, the rebels claim they're soon going to be receiving new supplies of weapons.  It’s believed that most of the weapons, including light arms and heavier items such as anti-tank weapons, will be coming from Qatar.

In related news, The New York Times reported this weekend that the U.S. and other Western nations have been trying to find a country that would accept Gadhafi if he agreed to step down.  Others say chances the Libyan leader will make such a deal are remote, because he has already proclaimed that he will die in Libya.

Further complicating the issue: the international court in The Hague would like Gadhafi to face charges related to the violence in his country over the past few months, as well as his involvement in the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland in 1988.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


France, Britain Chide NATO for Effort in Libya

Patrick Aventurier/Getty Images(LONDON) -- With Col. Moammar Gadhafi showing no signs of giving up his efforts to defeat rebels in Libya, France and Britain said on Tuesday that it was time that NATO steps up its attacks on government forces.

While the remarks by the British and French foreign ministers were meant to pick up the spirits of rebel forces desperate to hold onto their gains in the six-week conflict, they also irked the NATO alliance.

In a response statement, the alliance said, "NATO is conducting its military operations in Libya with vigor within the current mandate.  The pace of the operations is determined by the need to protect the population."

Rebel leaders have been very critical lately towards NATO for failing to keep up attacks on Gadhafi loyalists with the same intensity as when the U.S. was commanding the operations at the beginning of the international offensive to protect the population from a possible massacre.

In particular, the rebels are worried about keeping control of the strategic Western port city of Misrata, which is under constant bombardment by Gadhafi's tanks, artillery and snipers.  Observers say NATO's operation has been complicated by the fact that Gadhafi has put his ordinance in the midst of civilian populations, making it impossible for the Western alliance to launch air strikes without killing non-combatants.

Meanwhile, the U.S. is refusing to budge from its back seat position even as Britain and France maintain that the rebels won't succeed in their drive to remove Gadhafi from power without full U.S. participation.

However, White House spokesman Jay Carney asserted that NATO "is capable of fulfilling that mission of enforcing the no-fly zone, enforcing the arms embargo and providing civilian protection"

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Libyan Rebels Not Interested in Deal with Gadhafi

MAHMUD TURKIA/AFP/Getty Images(BENGHAZI, Libya) -- Rebel leaders in Benghazi, Libya said Monday they couldn't accept the African Union's "road map" to end hostilities with government forces until Col. Moammar Gadhafi steps down from power.

Getting the rebels to agree to the proposal was a long shot, even after Gadhafi announced he would agree to a cease-fire and hold talks "with the view to adopting and implementing the political reforms necessary for the elimination of the causes of the current crisis."

However, Mustafa Abdul Jalil, who leads Libya's rebel council, was adamant that "Gadhafi must leave immediately if he wants to survive."

In Washington, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton seemed to back the rebels' demands, telling reporters there "needs to be a transition that reflects the will of the Libyan people and the departure of Gadhafi from power and from Libya."

The rejection of the peace deal is a blow to South African President Jacob Zuma, who personally met with Gadhafi in Tripoli last Sunday and described the meeting as a "huge success."

Zuma also has called on NATO to stop its bombardment of Libyan's military forces, which the coalition says won't be possible until Gadhafi loyalists lay down their arms and pull back from cities held by rebels.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


NATO Admits Airstrike Hit Libyan Rebels; Offers No Apology

ARIS MESSINIS/AFP/Getty Images(NAPLES, Italy) -- A day after allegations surfaced that a NATO airstrike killed several Libyan rebel fighters, the alliance came out Friday admitting to the attacks but not offering an apology.

Rear Adm. Russell Harding, the deputy director of operations for NATO, said, "It would appear that two of our strikes yesterday may have resulted in the deaths of a number of TNC forces who were operating main battle tanks.  The incident took place north of Brega, where fighting had gone back and forth on the road to Ajdabiyah."

"I'm not apologizing," added Harding.  "The situation on the ground as I said was extremely fluid and remains extremely fluid.  And up until yesterday we had no information that the TNC or the opposition forces were using tanks."

Harding said that NATO's role in Libya is to protect civilians and that, in the past, tanks had been used to target civilians, which is why they were targeted.

Addressing claims made by Libya that the alliance bombed a major oil field in Sarir, Harding assured reporters that the allegation is "absolutely false," adding that "no NATO aircraft flew strikes in that area."

In the past two days, NATO has flown over 318 sorties over Libya, striking 23 targets on the ground.

"We've hit targets including T-72 tanks, armored personnel carriers, rocket launchers, surface-to-air missiles and ammunition dumps and locations including Misrata, Ras Lanouf and Brega," said Harding.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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