Libyan government soldiers man the artillery gun at the west gate of town Ajdabiyah March 16, 2011. Libya‘s army pounded an opposition-held city in the country’s west and battled fighters trying to block its advance on a rebel bastion in the east on Wednesday amid flagging diplomatic efforts to end the bloodshed.
Libyan government soldiers celebrate at the west gate of town Ajdabiyah March 16, 2011. Libya’s army pounded an opposition-held city in the country’s west and battled fighters trying to block its advance on a rebel bastion in the east on Wednesday amid flagging diplomatic efforts to end the bloodshed.
A truck carry tanks with Libyan government soldiers at the west gate of town Ajdabiyah March 16, 2011. Libya’s army pounded an opposition-held city in the country’s west and battled fighters trying to block its advance on a rebel bastion in the east on Wednesday amid flagging diplomatic efforts to end the bloodshed.
Libyan government army rocket launchers are seen in the desert near the west gate of town Ajdabiyah March 16, 2011. Picture taken March 16, 2011.
Libyan government soldiers test fire an armoured anti-aircraft gun at the west gate of town Ajdabiyah March 16, 2011. Picture taken March 16, 2011.
Libyan government soldiers pose at the west gate of Ajdabiyah town in this March 16, 2011 picture. Libya’s army pounded an opposition-held city in the country’s west and battled fighters trying to block its advance on a rebel bastion in the east on Wednesday amid flagging diplomatic efforts to end the bloodshed.
A Libyan government soldier holds a pistol at the west gate of town Ajdabiyah March 16, 2011. Picture taken March 16, 2011.
A Libyan government soldier poses for the camera at the west gate of Ajdabiyah town March 16, 2011. Libyan rebels have fought back against Muammar Gaddafi’s troops around the eastern town of Ajdabiyah, hampering their push towards the insurgent capital Benghazi.
Libyan government soldiers react during a visit by the foreign media at the west gate of town Ajdabiyah March 16, 2011. Picture taken March 16, 2011.
Journalists, including New York Times photographers Tyler Hicks (right in glasses) and Lynsey Addario (far left), run for cover during a bombing run by Libyan government planes at a checkpoint near the oil refinery of Ras Lanuf March 11, 2011. Hicks and Addario, along with NYT correspondents Stephen Farrell and Anthony Shadid, are missing since falling behind the lines of Muammar Gaddafi’s advancing forces two days ago, the NYT announced on Wednesday. Picture taken March 11, 2011.
Libyan army sets ultimatum to clear Benghazi
Tentera Gaddafi mengarahkan kepada orang awam supaya meninggalkan lokasi yang dikuasai pejuang dan lokasi yang berdekatan dengan stor simpanan Senjata Pejuang..
LIBYA — The Libyan Army has told residents in the opposition stronghold of Benghazi to leave rebel-held positions and arms storage areas, RFE/RL reports.
A text on Al-Libya television said the army was coming “to cleanse your city from armed gangs.”
A midnight ultimate passed with no reports of fighting. Residents in Benghazi said the city remains quiet.
Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi told Lebanese TV that he did not expect a battle in Benghazi.
Fearing violence, the International Committee of the Red Cross has withdrawn its aid workers from the town.
Some 150 kilometers south in Ajdabiyah, rebels say they have pushed back Qaddafi’s forces moving toward Benghazi.
At the UN, the Security Council could vote as soon as today on a resolution to impose a no-fly zone over Libya.
Council ambassadors met behind closed doors to debate the text for more than eight hours on March 16.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has called for an immediate cease-fire by all parties.
Battle for Benghazi looms
Libyan government soldiers battled rebels on the road to the insurgent stronghold of Benghazi on Thursday as the United States raised the possibility of air strikes to stop Muammar Gaddafi’s forces.
The army told people to leave opposition-held locations and arms dumps. But its advance on Benghazi — and the prospect of a decisive battle in the insurrection — was hampered by clashes around Ajbadiyah, a strategic town on the coastal highway.
Slow-paced international efforts to halt the bloodshed moved up a gear when the United States, previously cool on the idea of a foreign military intervention, said the U.N. Security Council should consider actions beyond a no-fly zone over Libya.
“We are discussing very seriously and leading efforts in the Council around a range of actions that we believe could be effective in protecting civilians,” US Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice said in New York.
“The US view is that we need to be prepared to contemplate steps that include but perhaps go beyond a no-fly zone.”
Washington had initially reacted cautiously to Arab League and European calls for a no-fly zone over Libya, with some officials concerned it could be militarily ineffective or politically damaging.
Diplomats told Reuters that the United States, Britain and France now supported the idea of the council authorizing military action such as airstrikes to protect civilian areas.
Russia, however, and other council members are resisting the proposals.
The change appeared to driven by the increasing plight of the rebels, who are fighting to end 41 years of rule by Gaddafi.
Their ill-equipped forces have been driven back by troops backed by tanks, artillery and war planes from towns they had seized last month in the early days of the uprising.
A message on Al-Libya state television told people in Benghazi, seat of the insurgents’ provisional national council, that the army was coming “to support you and to cleanse your city from armed gangs”.
“It urges you to keep out by midnight of areas where the armed men and weapon storage areas are located,” it said.
Benghazi residents poured scorn on the army announcement and said the eastern city was quiet.
Jibril al-Huweidi, a doctor at al-Jalaa Hospital in Benghazi, said ambulances were shuttling between there and Ajdabiyah, 150 km (90 miles) to the south on the Gulf of Sirte.
“They could not have made it repeatedly back and forth tonight if the evil forces were closing in on Benghazi” he said.
Muammar Gaddafi said on Lebanon’s LBC TV he did not expect a battle in Benghazi because Libyan people have been helping get rid of “al Qaeda” elements there — repeating his contention that the rebels are linked to the Islamist militant organisation.
One of Gaddafi’s sons, Saif al-Islam, had told Euronews TV on Wednesday morning that Libya’s second largest city would fall whether or not the international community agreed to impose a no-fly zone. “Everything will be over in 48 hours,” he said.
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Aid agencies the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and Medecins Sans Frontieres have withdrawn their workers from Benghazi due to safety concerns. [ID:nLDE72F2L4]
But Libyan rebels fought back against Gaddafi’s troops around Ajdabiyah, hampering their advance.
One rebel officer said on Wednesday morning the town had been lost and the fighters who remained had handed over their weapons. But on Wednesday evening, residents said the rebels held the centre of town while government forces were mostly on its eastern outskirts.
In New York, anti-Gaddafi Libyan diplomat, Ibrahim Dabbashi, told reporters that foreign powers had 10 hours to act against Gaddafi’s troops.
“We think that…in the coming hours, we will see a real genocide in Ajdabiyah if the international community does not move quickly and prevent him from attacking it with a large force,” he said.
A rebel spokesman in Benghazi, Mustafa Gheriani, told Reuters by telephone that they were holding Ajdabiyah.
“But the fighting is fierce. His supply lines are stretched so he can’t push on from Ajdabiyah. We’ve got some surprises in store. We’re going to fight on and we’re going to win.”Reuters