Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi said his regime won’t fall and threatened to retaliate against Europe for its involvement in attempts to overthrow him.
“Libyans will advance toward Europe willing to commit suicide, for we will go to heaven and they will go to hell,” Qaddafi said, according to a recording of his speech that was aired yesterday on Al Arabiya television.
The North Atlantic Treaty Organization started military strikes against Qaddafi’s forces in late March to aid rebels seeking to topple him. More than three months later, rebel advances on Tripoli are gradual and sometimes ephemeral, underscoring the challenges in defeating Qaddafi’s forces.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said on July 2 that Libyan rebels are gaining momentum and that Qaddafi should stop issuing threats against foreign nations. Qaddafi didn’t heed the warning in his comments. No date or location was given for the audio recording.
“Tens, hundreds or thousands of Libyans might die in Europe. We will raid their houses, women and children, like they raided us, and I told you an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth,” Qaddafi said. “We are threatening them now.”
Rebels in the besieged Libyan city of Misrata said yesterday that they captured a village on the outskirts of the government-held town of Zlitan after three days of fighting.
NATO warplanes on July 6 attacked positions held by Qaddafi loyalists in the central oil town of Brega, including what the alliance identified refueling equipment. The strike on infrastructure related to Libya’s oil assets was the first of its kind, an alliance official who declined to be identified according to NATO policy said yesterday from Naples, Italy.
A United Nations Security Council resolution authorizes the use of force in the North African country solely to protect civilians and civilian-populated areas under attack or threat of attack.
The revolt in Libya, which holds Africa’s largest oil reserves, has cut off 1.4 million barrels a day of exports. Crude oil for August delivery yesterday declined $2.47 to settle at $96.20 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It was the biggest drop since June 23.
Qaddafi also threatened on July 1 to attack Europe if raids on Libya continue, telling his supporters via an audio message aired on state television that “if we decide, we can also take” the battle to Europe. Last month, Libyan Foreign Minister Abdul Ati al-Obeidi called on Muslims to start a Jihad against the West following a NATO airstrike.
International pressure for Qaddafi to step down hasn’t abated as rebels show no signs of taking Brega and loyalist forces continue to bomb opposition-held Misrata. Clinton will travel to Turkey next week for a meeting of the so called Contact Group on Libya, U.S. State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said yesterday.
On July 5, Nuland said Qaddafi must realize he needs to step down. The same day, U.K. Foreign Secretary William Hague said in a press conference in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, alongside his Saudi counterpart Prince Saud Al Faisal, that the solution to the Libyan conflict is for Qaddafi to depart.
NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said on July 4 that NATO would continue its offensive in Libya until it meets its goals. The military alliance said up until the end of June it had flown more than 5,000 sorties in the Libyan campaign.
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