| 28.07,11. 11:15 PM |
Muammar Gaddafi ready for 'sacrifice' to defeat rebels in Libya
A DEFIANT Muammar Gaddafi said he is ready to "sacrifice" to defeat rebels battling his forces after they warned the deadline for the veteran strongman to step down and stay in Libya has expired.
"We are not afraid. We will defeat them," Gaddafi said in an audio message broadcast this morning (AEST), referring to the NATO alliance and the insurgents.
"We will pay the price with our lives, our women and our children. We are ready to sacrifice (ourselves) to defeat the enemy," he added in a message to loyalists in the town of Zaltan near the Tunisian border.
Gaddafi also called on his partisans to march on the rebel-held Nafusa mountainous region, southwest of the capital Tripoli, and called on his opponents to surrender.
"Traitors, surrender your weapons... Choose: death or surrender," he told the rebels, adding that without support from NATO the insurgents could not have seized the strategic mountainous region.
Rebels are using the Nafusa as a springboard for their advance on the Libyan capital.
Gaddafi's message came after the chief of the rebel National Transitional Council said in their Benghazi headquarters that an offer they had made through the UN that would have allowed the strongman to remain in Libya if he stepped down had lapsed.
NTC chairman Mustafa Mohamed Abdel Jalil said the rebels had delivered to UN special envoy Abdul Ilah al-Khatib "a very specific, well-intentioned offer that Gaddafi can stay in Libya under three conditions.
"We made a proposal. The deadline has passed. The proposal has expired," he told reporters of the month-old offer.
Under the offer, Gaddafi would have had to step aside and relinquish all responsibilities, his place of residence would be the "choice of the Libyan people" and he would be under "close supervision," Abdel Jalil said.
"The period of this proposal has passed," he said. "We cannot ignore the fact that the people who have been standing against him want him out."
Meanwhile, Britain gave a major boost to the rebels by inviting them to take over the Libyan embassy in London, a move the Gaddafi regime slammed, while Washington said it was examining a request by the rebels to recognise the insurgents.
In London, British Foreign Secretary William Hague said his country has expelled all remaining staff at the Libyan embassy and recognised the NTC as Libya's sole legitimate government, inviting it take over the embassy in London.
"The prime minister and I have decided that the United Kingdom recognises and will deal with the National Transitional Council as the sole governmental authority in Libya," Mr Hague said.
And in Washington State Department spokesman Mark Toner said the United States was also reviewing a request by Libya's rebels to open an embassy in the US capital.
"They did send an official request regarding the reopening of their embassy and we're reviewing that request. And we'll work through these issues," Mr Toner said.
Libyan Deputy Foreign Minister Khaled Kaaim slammed Britain's decision as "irresponsible and illegal" under British and international law.
"We consider this irresponsible, illegal and in violation of British and international laws," he said, adding that Gaddafi's regime "will take necessary actions," in British and international courts.