Sat, April 23, 2011
World > Africa > War clouds hover over Libya

Libyan army to pull out of Misrata

2011-04-23 12:19:26 GMT2011-04-23 20:19:26(Beijing Time)  Xinhua English

Libyan rebels are seen in Misrata, Libya, April 22, 2011. Misrata is the only major city in western Libya still under control of opposition forces. (Xinhua/Nasser Nouri)

TRIPOLI, April 23 (Xinhua) -- Libya's Deputy Foreign Minister Khaled Kaim said Friday that the Libyan army would pull out of the rebel-held city of Misrata and allow the local tribes to deal with the situation.

Kaim told reporters that the Libyan army will leave the city and local tribes and people will try to work out a solution to the problems either through force or negotiations.

"The situation in Misrata ...will be dealt with by the tribes around Misrata, and Misrata's residents and not by the Libyan army," he said.

Misrata, Libya's third largest city about 210 km east of Tripoli, has witnessed fiece gunfires between rebel forces and forces of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi since early March.

Hours after the announcement of an adjustment in strategies in Misrata by Gaddafi's forces, NATO bombs struck a parking lot in central Tripoli on Saturday, an area close to Gaddafi's compound.

Libyan government spokesperson Mussa Ibrahim said Saturday's "very powerful" attack killed three people.

Witnesses said they heard jets flying over the city.

The western coalition have vowed to continue their airstrikes until Gaddafi steps down. But their military campaign, now in its second month, has so far failed to tip the balance.

While the war in Libya seems to be moving toward stalemate, U.S. Senator John McCain has called on the international community to deliver more aid to the rebel National Transitional Council (NTC).

McCain made the remarks Friday after his one-day visit to Benghazi, a rebel stronghold in the east since the start of the unrest.

The veteran U.S. politician, who hailed Benghazi as "sources of hope," told reporters that he will encourage every nation, especially the United States to recognize the NTC as the legitimate voice of the Libyan people. He also called for more aid for the opposition to "create a condition on the ground" to force Gaddafi to leave.

"Governments which froze assets of Gaddafi regime should release part of the money to the NTC so that they can sustain and improve their span and capacity of governance," he said.

McCain also urged NATO to adopt emergency steps in its air campaign to protect civilians in Misrata. He said he supported U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates' decision to use Predator armed drones in Misrata so that Gaddafi's forces concealed in civilian areas could be better identified.

The rebels are not al-Qaida terrorists claimed by Gaddafi, McCain said, but he was concerned about the stalemate which may "open a door" for the radical Islamists to infiltrate into the country.

The U.S. senator asked NATO to supply "sufficient and appropriate assistance" to help the rebels, including command and control, intelligence, training and weapons.

International organizations and neighboring countries are now conducting humanitarian operations to ship thousands of stranded foreigners and the injured out of Misrata.

The rebels have pledged that they would not ask NATO to send ground troops to Libya. However, the NTC said on Wednesday that it would not refuse military intervention on the ground in Misrata for humanitarian reasons.

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