Gaddafi warns of decisive battle in Libya
LIBYAN strongman Muammar Gaddafi says his forces are poised to fight a ‘‘ decisive battle’’, as diplomats backing a no-fly zone to rein him in pressed for a vote at the UN Security Council.
Gaddafi’s latest comments came after his forces pressed rebels in the west on Wednesday and threatened their eastern bastion of Benghazi, despite calls from UN chief Ban Ki-moon for an immediate ceasefire.
‘‘ The battle starts today ( Wednesday) at Misrata and tomorrow, that will be the decisive battle,’’ Gaddafi said, referring to the country’s third city which has a population of half a million.
‘‘ From this evening, you are going to be called to take up arms and tomor-row you will take part in the battle, ’’ he added, addressing a group of young people from Misrata, the report said.
Gaddafi urged his audience ‘‘ not to leave Misrata hostage in the hands of a handful of madmen’’.
On Tuesday, Libyan state television said the army would soon move against Benghazi, and on Wednesday, Gaddafi’s son Seif alIslam predicted that everything would be over in 48 hours.
A rebel spokesman in Misrata, which lies 150km from the capital Tripoli, said on Wednesday t hey had beaten back an attack by loyalist forces on the city, but four people had been killed and 10 wounded. In Zintan meanwhile, the first western town to go over to the opposition, a witness said ‘‘ things were starting’’ there.