|An armed Libyan rebel sits next to a sign that reads in Arabic Attention, sniper danger© AFP Gianluigi Guercia|
, NEAR ASABAH, Libya (AFP) – (AFP) – Moamer Kadhafi’s regime accused NATO of killing more than 1,100 civilians as rebels repulsed an attack by forces loyal to the strongman on a key gateway to the Libyan capital.
Russia’s special envoy to Libya, Mikhail Margelov, said in a newspaper report meanwhile that he believes Kadhafi has a suicide plan to blow up Tripoli if it falls to the insurgents.
The report came a day after the rebels recaptured Gualish, their launchpad for a planned assault on Tripoli, and an insurgent commander downplayed talk of a political solution, saying Kadhafi refuses to quit.
His regime said on Wednesday it was seeking to prosecute NATO chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen in Libyan courts for war crimes over the alliance’s air strikes.
As NATO secretary general, Rasmussen is responsible for the actions of this organisation which has attacked an unarmed people, killing 1,108 civilians and wounding 4,537 others in bombardment of Tripoli and other cities and villages, prosecutor general Mohamed Zekri Mahjubi told foreign journalists in Tripoli.
Apart from war crimes, Mahjubi accused Rasmussen of trying to kill Kadhafi, deliberate aggression against innocent civilians and of the murder of children.Â
Also, the NATO chief stood accused of trying to overthrow the Libyan regime and replace it with a rebel movement under its control to take over the wealth of oil-rich Libya.
|The rebels are pushing towards Tripoli© AFPGraphic|
Kadhafi is wanted by The Hague-based International Criminal Court for atrocities committed in a crackdown by his forces on pro-democracy protests that erupted in mid-February.
Earlier on Wednesday, pro-Kadhafi forces had caught rebels off guard and attacked Gualish, which the insurgents captured a week earlier, seizing nearly all of it.
But rebels poured in from surrounding villages and besieged the hamlet, driving the loyalists out and chasing them up the road toward Asabah, some 17 kilometres (11 miles) away.
Above the town on the highway to Tripoli, the rebels fired heavy and small arms and loyalist troops responded with Grad rockets, said an AFP correspondent embedded with the rebels.
|A Libyan rebel stands at a checkpoint next near the hill village of Kikla© AFP Marco Longari|
As the fighting raged in the Nafusa Mountains, a rebel commander in the area said a peace deal was impossible because Kadhafi refuses to step down.
Up to now it is impossible to get a political solution. Kadhafi wants to stay; the rebels don’t want, said Colonel Juma Brahim, head of the rebels’ operational command for the region.
To the last moment Kadhafi is looking for a peace solution because he is weak, all the soldiers and equipment are coming to our side one by one, Brahim told AFP.
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, meanwhile, said at a joint news conference in Washington with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov that Kadhafi’s days are numbered after signs of advances on the field by rebels.
|A Libyan rebel protects his face from the dust as he rides through the last checkpoint before the Brega frontline© AFP Gianluigi Guercia|
Lavrov played down differences with Clinton over Libya, saying: We have less misunderstanding with the United States than with some European countries.
Â However, his ministry said earlier that Moscow would not take part in upcoming discussions on Libya to take place later this week in Turkey.
On Tuesday, French and Libyan officials talked up the chances of negotiating Kadhafi’s withdrawal from power and an end to the conflict still wracking the country after months of military stalemate.
Kremlin envoy Margelov said in an interview published on Thursday in the Russian daily Izvestia that he believes Kadhafi has a plan to blow up Tripoli if it is taken by the rebels.
The Libyan premier told me: if the rebels seize the city, we will cover it with missiles and blow it up, Margelov was quoted as saying in reference to a meeting last month with Libya’s Prime Minister Baghdadi al-Mahmudi.
|Libyans look at the list of names of killed and wounded outside Zintan hospital© AFP Marco Longari|
I imagine that the Kadhafi regime does have such a suicidal plan, he added, saying that Kadhafi still had plentiful supplies of missiles and ammunition.
Margelov met the Libyan prime minister on June 16 in Tripoli after holding talks in Benghazi earlier the same month. He has not met Kadhafi himself.
Russia abstained from a vote on a March UN Security Council resolution that opened the way for foreign involvement and has since criticized the campaign — particularly arms drops by France.