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Gadhafi Says Libyans Will Fight Against No-Fly Zone

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Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi says Libyans will take up against Western nations if they move to impose a no-fly zone over the country.

In an interview aired Wednesday by Turkey’s state-run TRT television, Gadhafi said such a move would lead Libyans to see that Western nations’ real intention is to seize Libya’s oil.

Separately Wednesday, in remarks broadcast on state television, Gadhafi repeated his claim that foreign operatives are responsible for the uprising against his government.

Addressing a group of people from the town of Zentan, Gadhafi blamed outside elements from Afghanistan, Algeria, Egypt and the Palestinian territories for the rebellion.

Troops loyal to Gadhafi attacked the rebel-held city of Zawiya for a fifth day Tuesday, part of renewed assaults aimed at reclaiming ground lost to rebel forces. Eyewitnesses said the city, 50 kilometers west of the capital, came under heavy mortar fire.

To the east, much of which is under opposition control, Libyan warplanes carried out several airstrikes on anti-government positions around the key oil port of Ras Lanuf. The city was bombed heavily as pro-Gadhafi forces targeted the town’s water reservoir among other installations. But as of late Tuesday, rebel officials said they still controlled the area.

Anti-government forces are seeking to recapture the city of Bin Jawad, 160 kilometers east of Gadhafi’s hometown of Sirte, after pulling out in the face of reinforced government troops.

Opposition leaders based in the eastern city of Benghazi initially suggested they made an amnesty offer to Gadhafi, but later denied any back-channel negotiations were under way. A spokesman for the rebel National Libyan Council, Abdul Hafidh Ghoga, said the group is not prepared to negotiate.

Ghoga called again for foreign powers to impose a no-fly zone over Libya and effectively ground Mr. Gadhafi’s air force.

Rebel representatives said they have had contacts with some foreign governments, and have sent envoys to several European cities seeking support. An Italian diplomatic delegation was in Benghazi Tuesday meeting with opposition leaders. It was the first official public visit by Western diplomats since the establishment of the provisional rebel government.

But activists say the Benghazi council’s authority remains tentative and has yet to unite with disparate, divided opposition groups abroad.

A council official told European officials Monday that Gadhafi is relying on his air force because he lacks adequate ground troops to put down the uprising. Mahmoud Jebril said the Libyan leader relies largely on security brigades led by his sons and loyal officers.

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