Revolt will be over in 48 hours, says Gaddafi's son
Libyan rebels told to flee or be crushed
Published 17/03/2011 | 05:00
The Gaddafi regime taunted the West yesterday over its failure to impose a no-fly zone over Libya and said it would "finish the job" of defeating the insurrection against its rule by tomorrow.
As Colonel Muammar Gaddafi's troops advanced towards Benghazi, the rebel capital, Saif al-Islam, the dictator's son, told "traitors and mercenaries" to flee the country or face the consequences.
"We don't want to kill, we don't want revenge, but you, traitors, mercenaries, you have committed crimes against the Libyan people. Leave; go in peace to Egypt," he said.
Asked about continuing British and French attempts to persuade the UN to impose a no-fly zone, he answered: "Within 48 hours everything will be finished. Our forces are almost in Benghazi. Whatever the decision, it will be too late."
The failure on Tuesday by the G8 group of nations to agree on military intervention in Libya is said to have "perplexed" Britain. An immediate decision was opposed by China and Russia, but even America failed to support the idea.
British Prime Minister David Cameron called on the UN Security Council to "show some leadership" over Libya.
"Every world leader has said that Gaddafi should go, that his regime is illegitimate and if at the end of this he is in place, that will send a terrible message not just to (Libyans) but to others across the region," he said.
Britain has tabled its own resolution at the Security Council along with France and Lebanon, but the foreign secretary, William Hague, also said it could support military action without a resolution.
The US is said to be exploring "other options", such as using sequestered Libyan assets to fund the opposition. US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said she was hopeful that the UN would take a vote on a Libya resolution no later than today.
In Benghazi itself, Col Gaddafi's warplanes began to target the town's defences in preparation for a full attack.
Residents could hear explosions coming from the military airfield.
Addressing residents via state television, the army said: "This is a humanitarian operation and is not aimed at taking revenge against anyone."
People began fleeing the city yesterday, driving four hours east towards the relative sanctuary of Tobruk. (© Daily Telegraph, London)