New York: The international community has 10 hours to act against troops loyal to Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, who are preparing to slaughter his opponents, an anti-Gaddafi Libyan diplomat said on Wednesday.
"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," Libya`s deputy UN envoy, Ibrahim Dabbashi, told reporters.
He was speaking on the sidelines of a UN Security Council meeting on whether to impose a no-fly zone on Libya.
Libyan rebels fought back against Muammar Gaddafi`s troops around the eastern town of Ajdabiyah on Wednesday, hampering their push toward the insurgent capital, Benghazi.
Government forces captured Ajdabiyah, 90 miles (150 km) south of Benghazi on the Gulf of Sirte, on Tuesday after most of its rebel defenders retreated from a heavy artillery barrage. Gaddafi`s forces are expected to push on to Benghazi.
"The international community has to act within the next 10 hours," said Dabbashi, who also said Libyan government forces had instructions to destroy ethnic Amazigh villages in the west of the North African country.
The rebels now have fighter jets, he said, adding the anti-Gaddafi forces "still don`t have the balance of power”.
"We have enough planes to help our forces on the ground," he said.
Dabbashi, whose denunciation of Gaddafi last month inspired dozens of similar defections by Libyan diplomats worldwide, said about five Arab nations had pledged to participate in a no-fly zone over Libya if the Security Council authorises it.
Dabbashi and other anti-Gaddafi Libyan diplomats have kept working in New York. A replacement UN ambassador named by the Tripoli government has not arrived yet.
Britain, France and Lebanon have circulated to the 15-nation council a draft resolution to authorise a no-fly zone to halt Libyan government air strikes on rebels. But Russia, China, Germany, India and other council members have been either undecided or voiced doubts about the idea.
Council diplomats said that Russia was pushing the council to approve a resolution on Wednesday calling for an immediate ceasefire. If that ceasefire was ignored, the council would reconvene to consider further measures.
France, Britain and other countries are lobbying against the Russian proposal and would prefer to swiftly finalise the resolution on a no-fly zone and stepped-up sanctions against Gaddafi and his inner circle, envoys said.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called earlier on Wednesday for a ceasefire by all parties in Libya.