Gaddafi spokesman says UK, French mercenaries caught

Gaddafi spokesman says UK, French mercenaries caught

Muammar Gaddafi's loyalists said on Monday they had captured 17 mercenaries -- some British and French -- in what would amount to a severe blow to Libya's new rulers and their international backers, Reuters reported.

The claim by the fugitive ousted leader's spokesman Moussa Ibrahim could not be verified, but it comes as the new authorities are facing stark reversals on the battlefield and in the political arena.

Nearly a month after Gaddafi was driven from power, his loyalist holdouts have beaten back repeated assaults by National Transitional Council forces at the town of Bani Walid and Gaddafi's home city of Sirte. NTC fighters have been sent fleeing in disarray after failing to storm Gaddafi bastions.

The NTC, still based in the eastern city of Benghazi, has faced questions about whether it can unify a country divided on tribal and local lines. A long-promised attempt to set up a more inclusive interim government fell apart overnight.

"A group was captured in Bani Walid consisting of 17 mercenaries. They are technical experts and they include consultative officers," Gaddafi spokesman Ibrahim said on Syria-based Arrai television, which has backed Gaddafi.

"Most of them are French, one of them is from an Asian country that has not been identified, two English people and one Qatari."

The French foreign ministry said it had no information about the report. The British foreign ministry said it was aware of media reports about the capture of mercenaries but was not able to substantiate them. Qatari officials were not immediately available for comment.

NATO, which is staging air strikes on Gaddafi loyalist positions, says it has no troops on the ground in Libya.

However, Western nations have sent special forces in the past, and media have reported that private security firms have aided anti-Gaddafi forces in training, targeting and with leadership. Gulf Arab states have also sent trainers and arms.

DEBACLE

The interim government's attempts to seize Bani Walid, 150 km (95 miles) southeast of Tripoli have become a debacle, with forces repeatedly surging into the town only to be driven out by its pro-Gaddafi defenders.

On Monday, NTC forces were unable to approach the northern gate to attack the town because of heavy gunfire from Gaddafi loyalists.

Fighters said on Sunday plans had gone awry for tanks and pickup trucks with machine guns and rocket launchers to lead an attack. Foot soldiers piled in first, only to be driven out.

"There is a lack of organization so far. Infantry men are running in all directions," said Zakaria Tuham, a senior fighter with a Tripoli-based unit.

Many fighters spoke of tension between units drawn from Bani Walid itself and those from other parts of the country.

Some fighters openly disobeyed orders. In one incident, an officer from Bani Walid was heckled by troops from Tripoli after he tried to order them to stop shooting in the air.

NTC forces and NATO warplanes also attacked Sirte, Gaddafi's birthplace, where assaults have been repelled. Hundreds of families were fleeing the city on Monday as NTC forces rolled up with huge rocket launchers and artillery.

Humanitarian groups have voiced alarm at reported conditions in the besieged coastal city.

"There's no electricity, no phone coverage. Nothing," resident Ibrahim Ramadan said, standing by a car packed with his family at a checkpoint. Interim government forces were handing out juice to civilians and rifling through their belongings to search for weapons.

Interim government forces amassed on the western outskirts of Sirte and exchanged scores of rockets with pro-Gaddafi fighters inside the city. They were advancing cautiously and using heavy artillery to try to weaken loyalist defense lines.

As in many episodes during Libya's conflict, the front lines at Sirte and Bani Walid have moved back and forth, with shows of bravado crumbling in the reality of battle.

In Benghazi, interim Prime Minister Mahmoud Jibril failed to name a new cabinet when his proposals did not receive full backing from all current members.

"We have agreed on a number of portfolios. We still have more portfolios to be discussed," Jibril told reporters at a news conference on Sunday.

A list of the approved ministries was not available, though sources familiar with the negotiations said that the position of Jibril himself was a sticking point during the talks.

There was also disagreement about whether it was necessary to form a transitional government before declaring Libya "liberated," which NTC officials say can only happen when remaining Gaddafi loyalists are defeated.

The political infighting reveals some of the fractures in an alliance that was united during the conflict by opposition to Gaddafi but divided among pro-Western liberals, underground Islamist guerrillas and defectors from Gaddafi's government.

The NTC has its roots in Libya's east, but most of the militiamen who finally succeeded in driving Gaddafi out of Tripoli are from towns in the west. Fighters are organized by home town into units with little overall coordination.

Gaddafi himself remains on the run. Ibrahim, his spokesman, has repeatedly said he is still in Libya directing resistance.

In addition to Bani Walid and Sirte, his fighters also control the town of Sabha deep in the Sahara desert, effectively dividing the east of the country from the west and making it difficult for the NTC to exert control.

Turkmenistan's oil refining volumes exceed plan
Turkmenistan's oil refining volumes exceed plan
Kazakhstan increases imports from Hungary in 2020
Kazakhstan increases imports from Hungary in 2020
Iran's interbank interest rate decrease
Iran's interbank interest rate decrease
Loading Bars
Latest
Turkmenistan's oil refining volumes exceed plan
Kazakhstan increases imports from Hungary in 2020
Iran's interbank interest rate decrease
Weekly review of Azerbaijani currency market
Indonesia reports 5,826 new COVID-19 cases, 112 more deaths
7 killed, 3 missing in floods in northern Algeria
Iran reveals COVID-19 data for March 7
Azerbaijan shows footage from Aghdam's Suma village (VIDEO)
COVID cases up in Turkey’s 3 biggest cities as east enjoys calm
Turkmenistan reveals indicators of construction, industrial sector
Iran launches new projects in Hormozgan Province
Azerbaijan's Mortgage & Credit Guarantee Fund signs tender contract
Russia’s confirmed coronavirus cases grow by 10,595 in past day to 4,322,776
Azerbaijan confirms 127 more COVID-19 recoveries
Bitcoin rises 4.2% to $50,947.94
Georgia reports 234 coronavirus cases, 349 recoveries, 9 deaths
Uzbekneftegaz stabilizes pressure at gas pipelines of Mubarek oil & gas dep’t
Prices on Azerbaijani oil continue to rise
Khazar Consortium opens tender for purchase of steam field unit
Iran to manufacture new wagons and locomotives
Saudi-led coalition destroys 10 Houthi drones
8 police, 5 militants killed during clashes in N. Afghanistan
Weekly review of Azerbaijani precious metals market
Iran's Energy Exchange announces products to be on sale on March 7
Azerbaijan shows footage from Fuzuli's Garakollu village (VIDEO)
Weekly review of major developments in Azerbaijan's transport sector
S. Korea reports 416 more COVID-19 cases, 92,471 in total
Health Minister: Only WHO approved vaccine to be imported
Turkey records dropping revenues from cement export to Georgia
Iran's customs releases more imported commodities
Turkmenistan shares data on GDP growth rate
New hazelnut processing plant to open in Azerbaijan’s Zagatala
New Zealand's Auckland emerges from lockdown, Australia starts AstraZeneca vaccinations
China exports jump 60.6% y/y in January-February, imports up 22.2%
Brazil registers 1,555 deaths from COVID-19 in 24 hours
Iran's trade, economic, political relations with neighboring countries to be developed
Ebola infects 29 people, kills 13 in Guinea, DRC: Africa CDC
UN chief condemns terrorist attack in Somalia
Paraguay’s president asks all ministers to resign amid protest rallies
Weekly review of highlights in Azerbaijan's agricultural sector
Israel reports 3,262 new COVID-19 cases, 799,727 in total
Biden says $1,400 payments can start to go out this month
France registers 23,306 new coronavirus cases, 170 deaths
U.S. Senate passes 1.9-trln-USD relief bill after marathon overnight session
UK records another 6,040 coronavirus cases, 158 deaths
India could be next happening market for SPAC-driven investor frenzy
Amazon, Google vie for piece of India digital payment market
India’s Wipro to acquire UK company for $1.45 bn
Indian-American named 1st VP, COO of Federal Reserve Bank of New York
Indian Govt to support Sri Lanka – Keheliya
Canada thanks India for sending 500,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccines
India proposes inclusion of Chabahar Port in INSTC multi-lateral corridor project
Nepali Parliamentarians take COVID-19 vaccine ahead of reinstated lower house meeting
Twitter tests audio chat tool Spaces on Android in India
WHO reports over 353,000 new daily cases of COVID-19
U.S. administers 87.9 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines: CDC
Foreign diplomats acquainted with Gulebird HPP in liberated Lachin of Azerbaijan (PHOTO)
Uzbekneftegaz eyes increasing daily production of liquefied gas at Shurtan oil&gas dep’t
Maduro receives Russia’s Sputnik V COVID-19 vaccine
Prices for fuels and lubricants increase in Kyrgyzstan 10-15% in one month
Turkey reports 11,770 COVID-19 cases in 24 hours
Iran, Iraq confer on expansion of transportation coop.
Visitors from Central Asia countries to enter Georgia with PCR tests
Armenian occupants seriously damage Azerbaijan's ecology - Ministry (PHOTO)
Paris police clear Seine riverside over lack of social distancing
Twitter's Dorsey auctions first ever tweet as digital memorabilia
Tibetan spiritual leader Dalai Lama gets vaccine shot
Five people killed in Ukrainian bus crash in Poland
Azerbaijani oil & gas sector's weekly review
Air France plane forced to land in Sofia due to disruptive passenger
Turkmenhimiya SC opens tender for construction of plants for technical iodine production
Georgian GlenBerries company launches arrangement of greenhouses for growing vegetables and fruits
Azerbaijani Ministry of Education implementing innovative projects with Microsoft
Bahar Azadi gold coin price continues to fall in Iran
We successfully completed all steps taken, including ending occupation of Nagorno-Karabakh - Erdogan
WHO official advises against introducing ‘immunity passports’ for travelers now
Russia logs 11,022 new COVID-19 cases
Azerbaijan confirms 149 more COVID-19 recoveries
Azerbaijan issues footage from Jabrayil district's Papi village (VIDEO)
Turkish FM pays official visit to Turkmenistan (PHOTO)
Iran reveals COVID-19 data for March 6
Uzbekistan transfers funds to UN Trust Fund for Aral Sea region
Turkish FM announces trilateral meeting between Azerbaijan, Turkey, Turkmenistan
Lybian diplomat harshly condemns Armenia using mosque in Azerbaijani Fuzuli as stable
Iran discusses relations with IAEA
Iran's nuclear activities completely peaceful - Rouhani
Who could say that Azerbaijan was wrong when the war started? - President Aliyev
New stage already evident in economic sphere, period of transparency, precision, when monopolies suppressed - President of Azerbaijan
As Commander-in-Chief, I know where our weaknesses are - Azerbaijani president
Today we are working on equal agreement with EU, it has been agreed by 90% - President of Azerbaijan
At new stage, we need to further deepen political dialogue - President Aliyev
Why are our “democrats” silent? Why aren’t they saying that Pashinyan should become example for us? - Azerbaijani president
Popular Front-Musavat ruined relations with almost all countries in just one year - Azerbaijani president
Azerbaijan today is country conducting large-scale reforms - President Aliyev
We have no problems with any political entity in country - President of Azerbaijan
If there were no outside help now, Armenia would be gone, completely - President Aliyev
If we are building road, asphalt is ours, bitumen is ours, gravel is ours, so why should we take external credits - Azerbaijani president
We never begged like Armenia, never humiliated ourselves, never asked anyone for help - Azerbaijani president
2003-2020 period was one of preparations - President Aliyev
Younger generation should know at what cost we were able to maintain independence - Azerbaijani president
All news