The uprising against Libyan leader Moammar Gaddafi will be crushed within the next forty-eight hours as forces loyal to the government close in on the rebel stronghold of Benghazi in the eastern part of the embattled country, according to Gaddafi’s son.
In an interview with Euronews, the French-based television network, Saif al-Islam said: The military operations are finished. In 48 hours everything will be over. Our forces are close to Benghazi. Whatever decision is taken, it will be too late.
An Al Jazeera reporter in Benghazi said that while there was no fighting in the city on Wednesday, there is a certain amount of apprehension among the rebels. However, he also added that there is strong will and a resolve to resist Gaddafi's forces.”
[Benghazi] is a city of over 800,000 people. They have nailed their colors to the mast in a very clear and decisive way, the Al Jazeera correspondent commented.
The Al Jazeera reporter said he believes an attack on Benghazi by Gaddafi would be easily repelled.
[The people of Benghazi] know there is no going away from here. If Gaddafi's forces come through here then they are in trouble, so that will, I think, buoy them to fight, the reporter said.
A lot of people here have got weapons. Even though they don't have the huge numbers of heavy weapons, they do have enough weapons to carry on street fighting and cause a problem.”
Soliman Bouchuiguir, president of the Libyan League for Human Rights, warned in Geneva that if Gaddafi attacked Benghazi, there would be a real bloodbath, a massacre like we saw in Rwanda.
Meanwhile, Gaddafi-supported troops have launched a violent offensive against the rebel-controlled city of Misurata, killing at least five people there, according to local reports.
Very heavy bombardments are taking place now from three sides. They are using heavy weapons including tanks and artillery ... They have yet to enter the town, a Misurata resident told Reuters.
Misurata residents told AP that Gaddafi’s troops cut communications in the city of 300,000 people, following water cuts yesterday.
Efforts by Western nations to impose a no fly zone over Libya has met with resistance, although the Arab League has already endorsed the measure. France and Britain have led the move as a way to prevent Gaddafi from bombing rebel bases, but Germany, Russia and China appear to be reluctant to support the move.
Alain Juppe, the French foreign minister, wrote on his blog: It is not enough to proclaim ... that Gaddafi must go. We have to provide the means to help those who have taken up arms against his dictatorship. Only the threat of using force can stop Gaddafi. It's by bombing, with his few dozen planes and helicopters, the opposition positions that the Libyan dictator has switched the balance.
Senator John Kerry of the U.S. is also reluctant to impose a no-fly zone without universal international support.
My fear is that [Gaddafi] is either choosing to bleed the opposition to death, rather than invite global action with a broad massacre, or waiting for the world to prove itself unwilling to act - at which point he might well begin killing civilians in large numbers, Kerry said.
The Libyan armed forces have called on rebel groups in the country to lay down their arms and assured they would not take revenge on those who surrender.
In a statement read on the TV, the state military said: advise your duped sons to hand over their weapons to the armed forces or the People's Leadership and they will be covered by an amnesty requested by the Commander [Gaddafi], which will be valid for any person who hands over his weapon to the armed forces and refrains from resistance and subversion.