Friday 6 December 2019

Orders from Gaddafi to destroy Tripoli if it falls to rebels

Damien McElroy and Andrew Osborn in Moscow

COLONEL Muammar Gaddafi has devised a suicidal last-ditch plan to blow up Tripoli if the capital falls.

Mikhail Margelov, the Kremlin's special representative for Africa, said Libya's prime minister Baghdadi al-Mahmudi had revealed the plan to demand that regime troops destroy territory they cannot hold.

"The Libyan premier told me: if the rebels seize the city, we will cover it with missiles and blow it up," said Mr Margelov who was in Libya last month for talks with both the government and the rebels. "I imagine that the Gaddafi regime does have such a suicidal plan," he added.

Lt Gen Charles Bouchard, NATO's top commander of Libya operations, said that the Gaddafi regime had ordered troops to destroy infrastructure and facilities as they retreated.

"I can report that the Gaddafi regime has given direction to its forces to destroy certain facilities as they withdraw back, such as fuel refineries and other aspects," he said.

However, he said that the order was causing some resentment among Gaddafi loyalists, who resented the destruction of their country.

"Just because Gaddafi has given a direction does not mean that direction is being undertaken by his own troops," he said.

"We've seen a fair bit of his troops -- of his generals -- surrendering, of his troops abandoning their posts."

Western officials believe Gaddafi's grip on power is slipping. Rebels have made advances on the capital, seizing yesterday the village of al-Qawalish. Yesterday, Gaddafi released a message urging his supporters to march on Benghazi, the rebel capital.

On Wednesday, Libyan rebels ran into a minefield when they recaptured a frontline village from Gaddafi's forces, providing fresh evidence that government troops are using mines in the uprising.

Libya is not party to the international treaty that bans the use of landmines, but rights groups say its use of the weapons violates established norms, especially if they are laid in areas where they pose a threat to civilians.

Libya denies it has used landmines in areas where civilians could be harmed, but New York-based Human Rights Watch, in a report released last month, said it had found evidence pro-Gaddafi forces have laid dozens of them in the region where Al-Qawalish is located. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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