Sunday, April 24, 2011
Libya Map & Misurata Ruse
Hague warns over Libya troops ruse
Published on Sunday 24 April 2011 09:23
The withdrawal of Colonel Muammar Gaddafi's forces from the besieged Libyan city of Misrata may only be a ruse, Foreign Secretary William Hague has warned.
Rebel leaders in the city were celebrating a major victory after the regime announced on Saturday that it was pulling back its troops after almost two months of fighting which has left hundreds dead.
Mr Hague however said that it might simply represent a change of tactics, and called on the international coalition to maintain its pressure on the Libyan dictator.
"Reports of the Gaddafi forces completely pulling out of Misrata seem to be exaggerated," Mr Hague told BBC1's The Andrew Marr Show. "This may be cover for using more insurgency-type warfare without any uniforms and without tanks."
Libyan deputy foreign minister Khaled Kaim has warned that if the rebels do not lay down their arms within 48 hours, local tribal leaders could send their supporters into the city to finish them off.
The rebels however dismissed the threat, saying there was little support for the regime among the tribes in the area.
Mr Hague said that the regime appeared "politically demoralised" in the face of the sustained international pressure - including airstrikes - and he urged the coalition not to let up.
"We are making progress militarily, there is no doubt about that. They are clearly under military pressure and they will come under ever greater diplomatic and economic pressure," he said. "I think a lot of them can see there is no future for this regime. Time is not on Gaddafi's side. It is Col Gaddafi who needs an exit strategy because this pressure will only mount."
Mr Hague confirmed that there were still some diplomatic contacts with the regime, but said that so far they had amounted to little.
He also dismissed suggestions that the decision to send a team of British military advisers to assist the rebels amounted to "mission creep" and that the UK was sliding towards a land war. He added that Britain would continue to act in compliance with United Nations Security Council resolutions which rule out any occupying force in Libya.
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