Gaddafi opponents say he is still a threat

Reuters News
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Posted: Aug 29, 2011 4:28 AM
Gaddafi opponents say he is still a threat

DOHA (Reuters) - Muammar Gaddafi, who has not been seen since rebels took over the Libyan capital of Tripoli a week ago, is still a threat to the country and the world, the chairman of the National Transitional Council (NTC) said on Monday.

Speaking at a meeting in Doha, Qatar, of defense ministers from countries supporting the insurgency against Gaddafi's rule, NTC Chairman Mustafa Abdel Jalil called on NATO to keep supporting the movement.

"I call for continued protection from NATO and its allies from this tyrant," Abdel Jalil said. "He is still a threat, not just for Libyans but for the entire world."

The NTC, which is hunting Libya's deposed leader and pushing to take over his hometown of Sirte east of Tripoli, said on Saturday it had no firm information on his whereabouts. It has offered a $1.3 million reward and amnesty from prosecution for anyone who kills or captures Gaddafi.

As the rebels consolidate their grip on the vast North African country, Abdel Jalil has been in Europe, Benghazi and Doha to push for ongoing support for the campaign and discuss the shape of a post-Gaddafi Libya.

NATO, whose bombing campaign was a key element in the rebels' success, said at the same meeting in Doha that it would continue its mission.

"We believe the Gaddafi regime is near collapse, and we're committed to seeing the operation through to its conclusion," said U.S. Admiral Samuel Locklear, commander of NATO's Joint Operations Command.

"Pockets of pro-Gaddafi forces are being reduced day by day. The regime no longer has the capacity to mount a decisive operation," Locklear told a news conference.

Locklear added that NATO had a mandate through September 27 to keep up the operation, which has consisted mainly of targeted bombing to support the rebels. More than 5,000 military targets have been destroyed, NATO said.

For an extension of the mandate, NATO members would have to hold another council, Locklear said.

(Reporting by Regan Doherty; Writing by Reed Stevenson; Editing by Tim Pearce)