Libya plans full offensive against rebels

Reuters News
Posted: Mar 22, 2011 11:08 AM
Libya plans full offensive against rebels

By Michael Georgy and Maria Golovnina

TRIPOLI (Reuters) - Libya is preparing full-scale military action to crush its rebellion and will not surrender even if Western powers intervene in the conflict, Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi's most prominent son said on Thursday.

"It's time for liberation. It's time for action. We are moving now," Saif al-Islam Gaddafi told Reuters in an interview.

Asked if the government was preparing to step up its military campaign, he said: "Time is out now. It's time for action ... We gave them two weeks (for negotiations)."

Speaking in unusually tough language, the London-educated younger Gaddafi said Libya would defeat the rebels, even if Western powers intervened.

"We will never ever give up. We will never ever surrender. This is our country. We fight here in Libya," said Saif al-Islam, who has been described as the Western-friendly face of Libya.

"The Libyan people, we will never ever welcome NATO, we will never ever welcome Americans here. Libya is not a piece of cake."

Saif al-Islam described rebels determined to end Gaddafi's 41-year rule as terrorists and armed gangsters and said thousands of Libyans had volunteered to fight them.

"Now it's too late for them. We are so united, we are so strong. And Libya will be free and peaceful soon," said Saif al-Islam at a Tripoli compound designed in the shape of a luxury tent, as Gaddafi supporters shouted defiant slogans in the background.

(Reporting by Michael Georgy and Maria Golovnina, editing by Tim Pearce)