Libya: Coalition forces prepare two-pronged blitz [on Libyans] to finish off Gaddafi
British, French and other Nato forces were on Saturday night preparing a two-pronged blitz to try to finish off Col Gaddafi as already slender hopes for a peaceful resolution to the Libyan crisis faded.
5:37PM BST 28 May 2011
The first daytime bombing raid on the Libyan capital Tripoli on Saturday morning heralded a new stage in the military campaign against the Gaddafi regime.
It hit a military storage base in the centre of Tripoli that has been subject of repeated raids all week.
But a military spokesman said a separate mission the night before had taken out watchtowers on the leadership's Bab al-Azizia compound and threatened to begin opening up its miles of bleak green-painted concrete walls up by precision bombing.
On Saturday evening, it appeared the regime was attempting to open back-door channels to negotiate with the British government.
The Libyan deputy foreign minister, Abdelati al-Obeidi, who has been in Tunis, told Al-Jazeera he had spoken to British intermediaries to establish a line of communication in a bid to bring the fighting to an end.
They were said by diplomatic sources not to be representatives or acting in an official capacity, however, and Mr al-Obeidi denied there was talk of an exit strategy for Col Gaddafi.
Meanwhile, after pushing regime forces out of the city of Misurata rebel forces have been told to prepare for the first attacks by Apache helicopters, withdrawing from close combat to allow a clear run on the front line.[Ron: Sooo, tell me again about UN Resolution 1973 authorizing a NO FLY ZONE only! HOW does using Apache gunships to attack Libyans in close combat ON THE GROUND to allow the "rebels" a clear run on the front line, fit within the authority given by UN Resolution 1973???]
"Yesterday two French men, who usually come to take coordinates so that Nato knows where to attack, came to the front. They told me this is the 'third stage'," said Ahmed Ibrahim, a senior rebel.
The front lines are now about 15 miles from the centre of Misurata. Mortars and Katyusha rockets killed four rebels in fighting on Saturday, before fighting quieted down.
The latest bombing raids sent plumes of smoke into the air from Bab al-Azizia in central Tripoli and the storage compound opposite, which has now been hit by four separate raids in the last week.
Gaping holes in its walls, revealing huge, crushed concrete hangars and other wreckage inside, face on to the entrance to Bab al-Azizia where Gaddafi loyalists maintain a permanent guard of "human shields".[Ron: Sooo, Libyans are prepared to protect Gaddafi with their own lives. That doesn't fit with the NATO propaganda about Gaddifi being a hated tyrant does it???]
The regime says the base is an empty barracks for army volunteers, left deserted because of a fear of raids. It says 19 people died on the first night of attacks, several of them local residents who ran from their homes after the first bombs hit, only to be struck by a second wave.
Reporters were shown three bodies said to be of civilians.[Ron: What else would they be??? If ya bomb the city of Tripoli ya gonna KILL civilians!!!]
The lack of a visible target inside led to accusations by local residents that the raids were intended merely to spread terror.
"RAF Typhoons, along with other Nato aircraft, last night used precision guided weapons to bring down guard towers along the walls of Col Gaddafi's Bab al-Azizia complex," Maj-Gen Lorimer said.
"For decades, Colonel Gaddafi has hidden from the Libyan people behind these walls, spreading terror and crushing opposition.[Ron: Absolute bullshit propaganda!!] The massive compound has not just been his home, but is also a major military barracks and headquarters, and lies at the heart of his network of secret police and intelligence agencies."
It is clear that Nato's strategy is to send an ultimatum that attacks will intensify if Col Gaddafi does not step down.
"There are signs that the momentum against Gaddafi is really building. So it is right that we are ratcheting up the military, the economic and the political pressure," the Prime Minister, David Cameron, said at the end of Friday's G8 summit.
President Dmitry Medvedev of Russia has agreed to intervene to seek an exit for Col Gaddafi, a move met with disbelief in Tripoli, where the prime minister, Mahmoud al-Baghdadi only on Thursday offered effusive praise to Moscow for opposing Nato's attacks.
Khaled Kaim, the deputy foreign minister, rejected the proposal and said Mr Medvedev would be allowed only to negotiate through the African Union, which has already condemned Nato's bombing raids and refused to call for Col Gaddafi's departure.
President Jacob Zuma of South African is expected to arrive in Tripoli on Sunday to lead a new peace mission. But Mr al-Baghdadi appeared to cut the ground from under his mission by pledging to make "no concessions".
Some Nato members meanwhile have suggested that Col Gaddafi could stay while ceasefire talks took place, but have refused to compromise on the principle that his departure must be guaranteed.
While Mr al-Baghdadi offered for the first time to hold talks with the opposition Transitional National Council, Mr Kaim appeared to back away even from that offer after the Russian volte-face.
"It will be very difficult for the Libyan people to deal with them," he said, calling council members "traitors".
"Their place in history will be in the house of shame."
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