West helping rebels' cause: Libyan minister

Reuters News
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Posted: Mar 22, 2011 3:01 PM
West helping rebels' cause: Libyan minister

By Michael Georgy

TRIPOLI (Reuters) - Western forces are more interested in helping rebels advance than protecting civilians and they have made it clear they intend to assassinate Muammar Gaddafi, Libya's deputy foreign minister said Tuesday.

"That's the problem now we are seeing, the coalition forces they are part of the war against the legitimate government," Libyan Deputy Foreign Minister Khaled Kaim told Reuters in an interview, adding that coalition forces were even striking soldiers in their barracks.

It was "clear" from a strike that damaged a building in Gaddafi's Tripoli headquarters that Western forces want to assassinate the Libyan leader, despite the officially stated position that he was not a target, Kaim said.

Kaim said the Libyan army was not conducting any battle operations and was working to help bring life back to normal to cities hit by fighting.

He accused Western forces of siding with rebels.

"They are helping one party against the other which is illegal," he said.

"They are using air strikes to attack our troops even the stationary ones, even ones staying in their military barracks ... I know the strategy is to give them the upper hand but I am sure that will not happen."

Kaim called on all sides to stop the fighting and repeated a plea for international observers to travel to Libya to see if the government was observing a ceasefire called last week.

Libya hopes powerful tribal leaders will help bring peace, said Kaim.

"This is the official policy of the government to encourage the dialogue and to have the dialogue start as soon as possible," he said.

(Reporting by Michael Georgy)