Libyan rebels ask NATO to keep up military pressure on Gaddafi fighters

AP , Monday 29 Aug 2011

After freeing more than 10,000 of Muammar Gaddafi's prisoners, top Libyan rebel officials urge NATO to help them route remnants of Gaddafi's regime and aid in restoring basic services in Tripoli

The head of the rebel's transitional government Mustafa Abdul-Jalil (Photo:AP)

Top Libyan rebel officials Monday urged NATO to maintain pressure on the remnants of Muammar Gaddafi's regime and protect crews trying to restore critical water and power services.

"Gaddafi is still capable of doing something awful in the last moments," the head of the rebel's transitional government, Mustafa Abdul-Jalil, told senior NATO envoys who are meeting in the Gulf nation of Qatar.

Other rebel officials urged NATO to shift its focus to help safeguard reconstruction teams seeking to ease water and power shortages in the capital, Tripoli, and elsewhere. Rebel leaders estimate that at least 60 per cent of Tripoli's residents don't have enough water.

Jalal al-Digheily, who is overseeing defence issues in the rebels' National Transitional Council (NTC), said NATO-led forces must now keep watch over work crews seeking to restore services.

"Even after the fighting ends, we still need logistical and military support from NATO," he told military chiefs of staff and other key defense officials from NATO nations.

The NATO talks in Qatar included France, Italy and Turkey. Qatar has been a leading Arab backer of the Libyan rebels and contributed warplanes to the NATO-led mission.

In another context, a rebel military spokesman, Ahmed Bani, says rebels have freed more than 10,000 from Muammar Gaddafi's prisons since entering Tripoli last week.

But, Bani also said that some 50,000 people are unaccounted for.

Gaddafi's regime sought to break the uprising that erupted in mid-February by locking up thousands of people. Many have been released, but evidence has emerged that regime forces executed dozens of prisoners as rebels seized the capital.

Bani told reporters in the eastern city of Benghazi Sunday that rebels are still searching for Gaddafi. Rebels say many Gaddafi loyalists have fled to Sirte, headquarters of his tribe and his last major bastion.

Bani adds: "We hope that Gaddafi is still in Libya, so we can rid the world of this insect."

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