Gaddafi dead set against `no-fly` zone, threatens fierce fight back

Gaddafi said imposition of a no-fly zone will prove that real motive of West is to seize Libya`s oil.

Updated: Mar 09, 2011, 23:57 PM IST

Cairo: Accusing the West of conspiring to usurp Libya`s oil resources, a defiant Muammar Gaddafi on Wednesday warned that any move to clamp a `no-fly` zone would be strongly resisted by the people, as his forces reclaimed rebel-held Zawiyah and pounded other opposition positions.

Ignoring the ultimatum by the rebels asking him to step down within 72 hours, Gaddafi, in an interview to Turkish TV, said a no-fly zone would show the true intention of the Americans and their European allies to "colonise Libya and seize its oil wealth".

"If they take such a decision (to impose a no-fly zone), it will be useful for Libya, because the Libyan people will see the truth, that what they want is to take control of Libya and to steal their oil," Gaddafi said.

"Then the Libyan people will take up arms against them."

68-year-old Gaddafi also appealed to the people in the east, who have shunned him, to rise and topple the members of the newly-formed rebel Libyan National Council.

Tanks rolled into Zawiyah, 50 kms from Tripoli, after days of pitched battle between the loyalists and rebels, which according to residents have reduced large parts of the town to rubbles with unclaimed bodies strewn all over, Al-Jazeera reported.

BBC reported that a huge explosion was heard near the rebel-held oil port of Ras Lanuf, which has come under sustained air strikes as the uprising entered the 23rd day, seeking an end to the 41-year rule of Gaddafi.

US President Barack Obama and British Prime Minister David Cameron discussed a possible no-fly zone over Libya butboth countries maintained that any intervention must have wide international support.

With a consensus eluding the international community on imposing a no-fly zone, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton made it clear that any such move should be made by the UN and not by US.

Gaddafi was shown walking into a five-star hotel in the capital Tripoli to give interview to state TV and the Turkish TV.

The opposition stuck to its ultimatum to Gaddafi to step down.

"If he leaves Libya immediately, during 72 hours, and stops the bombardment, we as Libyans will step back from pursuing him for crimes," Mustafa Abdel Jalil, head of the opposition National Council, told Al-Jazeera.

"Conditions are that firstly he stops all combat in the fields, secondly that his departure is within 72 hours; thirdly we may waive our right of domestic prosecution ... for the crimes of oppression, persecution, starvation and massacres," Jalil said.

The offer came as reports said Gaddafi had sent feelers to the opposition movement, expressing willingness to
negotiate his exit.

PTI