Meanwhile, Libyan rebel Chief Mustafa Abdel Jalil warned Qaddafi still posed a danger inside and outside of Libya and urged no let-up in international action against the strongman.
"Qaddafi defiance of the coalition forces still poses a danger, not only for Libya but for the world. That is why we are calling for the coalition to continue its support," Abdel Jalil said at a meeting of Chiefs-of-Staff of countries militarily involved in Libya, including Qatar, according to AFP.
Rebel troops have advanced to within 60 miles of Sirte from the east and are also approaching from Misrata in the west, and will fight for Sirte if negotiations now under way on handing them control of the town fail, he said.
“Our aim isn’t bloodshed, our aim is liberation,” Colonel Salem Muftah al-Refaidy told Reuters during a visit to Benghazi. “We don’t want more bloodshed, especially among the civilians – children, elderly, and women.”
Asked how long it would be until rebels took the city, he said: “At most 10 days, maybe less.”
Observers are concerned the fight for Sirte could be bloodier than the struggle for Tripoli, where corpses were still rotting in the streets after rebels streamed in last week.
Sirte is believed to hold large numbers of die-hard Gaddafi supporters and significant military installations. NATO has said Qaddafi’s army has fired several Scud missiles from the town, but all are believed to have fallen far from their targets.
Rebel forces see Sirte as their last obstacle to controlling Libya’s Mediterranean coast, where most of the country’s 6 million people live.
After Sirte, the rebels say they will turn to Qaddafi’s Sabha stronghold in the desert south.
Source: Reuters; AFP