- (Photo: AP/Jerome Delay)
Muammar al-Gaddafi shows no sign that he intends to let go of power, vowing Thursday to engage in a “decisive battle.”
The dictator, who has ruled Libya for more than 40 years, was quoted on state TV as saying, “The battle continues at Misurata on Thursday, that will be the decisive battle,” reported Al Jazeera.
Misurata is about 93 miles from the capital Tripoli and is currently held by rebels.
Gaddafi urged his supporters to “take up arms” and to fight so that the city is not left “hostage in the hands of a handful of madmen.”
Despite international condemnation, Gaddafi has unleashed troops against protesters and civilians, resulting in a bloodbath of more than 1,000 people dead and thousands of people injured.
In an earlier statement, the unpredictable Libyan leader had vowed to fight to retain power until his last drop of blood.
The United Nations has passed a resolution calling for Gaddafi to stop killing protesters and issued a sanction against his regime, but has not yet intervened militarily.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who was in Cairo on Wednesday, said, “We want to do what we can to protect innocent Libyans against the marauders let loose by the Gaddafi regime.
“And yes, time is fast upon us. There is an urgency to it,” she said.
The U.N. Security Council is considering to pass a no-fly zone in Libya to stop Gaddafi’s forces from carrying out aerial attacks against rebels and civilians. The United States supports the no-fly zone and wants to help the rebels, but a diplomat familiar with the discussion told The Associated Press that Washington will not act on its own to stop attacks by Gaddafi without U.N. authorization.
Over the weekend, even the Arab League expressed support for a no-fly zone in Libya. Clinton called this “extraordinary” that the Arab nations was calling the U.N. to take action “against one of their own.”
Until recently, the Obama administration has been hesitant to call for a no-fly zone because the Pentagon says it is a step equivalent to war, according to AP. The United States is already entangled in wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and is wary of entering into a third one, especially in a country it has little knowledge of.
Rebel leader Mustafa Gheriani said from the city of Benghazi that while the opposition hopes that the U.N. will vote to provide more support for them, even if it doesn’t, “we’ll rely on ourselves and do what we can.”
“Short of genocide of east Libya there’s little Gaddafi can do because he can’t rule us anymore,” said Gheriani.