Tuesday 23 May 2017

Gaddafi will use mustard gas, claim rebels

Richard Spencer in Tripoli

Colonel Muammar Gaddafi still has a quarter of his stockpile of chemical weapons and is ready to use mustard gas in a "desperate" fight to the death, a senior Libyan rebel commander claimed yesterday.

General Abdul Fatah Younis, who was Gaddafi's interior minister before defecting to the opposition and is now the rebel army's chief of staff, gave the warning as he pleaded for NATO to arm the rebels with heavy weapons, including helicopters and anti-tank missiles, to defend the besieged city of Misurata.

He predicted the Libyan dictator would "never accept retreat" and in a last stand would be ready to use chemical weapons against rebels or the civilian population.

"He will fight up to the final drop of his blood," he said. "He has been offered chances to leave and he refused them all. Most probably he will be killed or commit suicide."

Gaddafi is known to have around 10 tonnes of mustard gas remaining from stocks that he had been destroying under the supervision of the international Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons.

The question of arming the rebellion in Libya has divided the international community, including the alliance of countries carrying out bombing raids. Britain supports the idea but the United States is lukewarm and others oppose it.

Misurata has seen the most intense fighting, though rebels say they have driven pro-Gaddafi troops out. Government forces have hit back with missiles, and a doctor in the city also said yesterday that 12 rebels had been killed by a misdirected NATO bomb.

Meanwhile, a major new front has opened in the west of the country, where rebels seized a border crossing with Tunisia last week. After a heavy counter-attack yesterday, Gaddafi's forces had regained control of the border.

A rebel spokesman claimed that many civilians had been killed in the Western Mountains by "indiscriminate shelling". (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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