Gadhafi's Forces May Not Have Eased Up Attacks

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Libya today declared a full ceasefire, vowing to halt military operations against rebel fighters. It may not be enough, though, to thwart air strikes from countries, including Britain and France. They're poised to act on a United Nations Security Council resolution authorizing military action to halt Moammar Gadhafi's campaign to crush his opposition. U.S. and European leaders said Libya must do more than offer promises. And there are indications Gadhafi's forces haven't eased up at all.


From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel.

Libya today declared a full cease-fire, vowing to halt military operations against rebel fighters. It may not be enough, though, to prevent airstrikes from countries including Britain and France. They're poised to act on the U.N. Security Council resolution authoring military action to halt Moammar Gadhafi's military campaign. U.S. and European leaders said Libya must do more than offer promises. Here's President Obama, speaking earlier today.

President BARACK OBAMA: These terms are not subject to negotiation. If Gadhafi does not comply with the resolution, the international community will impose consequences. And the resolution will be enforced through military action.

SIEGEL: And there are indications that Gadhafi is not complying. Our coverage begins in Libya's capital, Tripoli, with NPR's David Greene.

DAVID GREENE: The foreign minister showed up, with little notice, at a Tripoli hotel that was packed with journalists.

Unidentified Man #1: We have the minister for foreign affairs, Mr. Mussa Kussa, for a short statement.

GREENE: The gray-haired minister methodically read in Arabic, from a piece of paper. While Libya was saddened by the U.N. resolution approved last night, he said, the government would abide by the U.N.'s demand that Libya's people be protected.

Mr. MUSSA KUSSA (Foreign Affairs Minister, Libya): (Through translator) Therefore, Libya has decided an immediate cease-fire, and the stoppage of all military operations.

GREENE: Kussa went on to say that Libya is committed to social, political and economic reform.

Mr. KUSSA: (Through translator) And we have, indeed, taken serious steps in continuing this development for the good of the Libyan people.

GREENE: Rebel leaders who've been fighting to push Gadhafi from power said there was no cease-fire they could see. Cities like Misurata and Ajdabiya, they said, were still being shelled - claims the government denied.

(Soundbite of shelling)

GREENE: This is YouTube footage - which according to those who posted it, showed the Libyan city of Misurata still under attack. The coastal city is a couple hours east of Tripoli, and the government's been trying for several weeks to retake it from the rebels.

While there's no way to confirm the events independently, the TV network Al Jazeera reported that Misurata was still being targeted. In Washington, meanwhile, a Pentagon official told NPR: The U.S. saw surveillance suggesting Libya's military was still active, firing on areas around the rebel stronghold of Benghazi.

(Soundbite of televised coverage of rally)

Unidentified Man #2: (Speaking foreign language)

GREENE: Libya's government today kept up its effort to control the message. All day on state TV, a montage of green-clad, pro-Gadhafi rallies. There were rumors of some anti-government protests planned for the capital. It was about the same time when authorities locked down the hotel for journalists. Officials said reporters were not allowed in the streets because it was dangerous.

(Soundbite of car horns)

GREENE: Late in the day, government minders shuttled groups of journalists near Green Square in central Tripoli.

There, Gadhafi supporters knotted up roads as they drove by, honking their support for the man they call their dear leader. Thirty-three-year-old Sirhan Thirage(ph) was walking by with her mom and sisters. She said the reports of other countries getting ready to attack Libya have unnerved her.

Ms. SIRHAN THIRAGE: (Through translator) So much, of course, worried for my country. And if it happened: Even if I was a woman, if they will attack us, I will go and defend my country.

GREENE: Thirage said she's convinced the United Nations Security Council made its decision to intervene in Libya based on lies.

Ms. THIRAGE: (Through translator) They're accusing - false accusations to our leader that he's killing us. But I want to say a word to the whole world: If even Gadhafi wanted to kill us, we will accept it. But we will never accept a foreigner coming to kill us. In fact, there's no father will kill his children. We are his - Gadhafi's children. We do not trust the foreigners.

GREENE: The foreigners, who agreed at the U.N. last night to impose a no-fly zone, are moving closer to military action in Libya, despite what the government said here today.

David Greene, NPR News, Tripoli.

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