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April 22nd, 2011
08:17 PM ET

Libyan army to withdraw from Misrata, official says

Tripoli, Libya (CNN) - Libya's army will withdraw from the besieged coastal city of Misrata and allow tribal leaders to attempt to deal with the rebels, Libyan Deputy Foreign Minister Khaled Khaim said Friday in Tripoli.

Meanwhile, NATO airstrikes resumed early Saturday in Tripoli.

"The situation in Misrata will be eased and will be dealt with by the tribes surrounding Misrata," Khaim told reporters. "You will see how they will be swift and quick and fast."

He added that the residents of Libya's third-largest city have been in the grip of the conflict.

"The tactic of the Libyan army is to have a surgical solution, but it doesn't work," Khaim said. "With the airstrikes, it does not work. We will leave it for the tribes and Misrata people to deal with the situation - either to use force or negotiations."

He added, "The tribal leaders have issued an ultimatum to the military saying they will deal with the situation if the military cannot do it. ... They will speak with the rebels and, if there is no solution, they will fight the rebels."

In the rebel stronghold of Benghazi, in the east, rebel spokesman Ahmed Bani reacted with laughter and derision.

"This only confirms that he wants to save face," Bani said of Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi. "This confirms that our rebels in Misrata have liberated Misrata and that Libya is still in one piece, not two, the way Gadhafi hoped. In regards to the tribes fighting the rebels; how would you believe that a person will fight his brother? And who are the tribes that are supporting Gadhafi, anyway?"

He predicted that, if Gadhafi forces leave Misrata, "it will mean that this game is over." But he added that he did not necessarily believe they will.

The announcement came after Bani said that Libyan rebels had wrested control of a key building in Misrata and made other advances in the city.

"This victory is quite important for us, and it shows that we are advancing and we are heading in the right direction," Bani told CNN about the rebels' control of the National Insurance Building, which is on the main thoroughfare, Tripoli Street. Its height provided snipers with a clear view of surrounding streets.

Bani said some fighters loyal to Gadhafi were negotiating to surrender their weapons to the rebels in exchange for the rebels' assurances that they would not be harmed.

But the carnage of recent days was on display at the city's hospitals, where doctors were working long hours and beds were full.

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soundoff (2 Responses)
  1. charlie

    Ghadafi lies, rebels lie and Donald Trumps claims Obama is not the president. And CNN reports it all.
    The US is a disgrace to freedom of speech.

    April 22, 2011 at 10:50 pm |
  2. Annie Kate

    Gadhafi letting the tribes take over? Either he realizes he can't win and wants the tribes to do it for him while turning this conflict into a real civil war instead of a rebellion against Gadhafi or he's lying....maybe both given his past behavior. I just hope that the Libyan people will be able to remove Gadhafi from power and set up a government where they have the freedoms that they want. And I hope for all the innocent people getting hurt that the end of this conflict is soon.

    April 22, 2011 at 10:06 pm |