In his first speech since the launch of a major rebel offensive, Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi urges Libyans to “get ready for the fight”, urging them to liberate the country from Nato and traitors.
Colonel Gaddafi‘s address, which was delivered by phone and broadcast by state television in audio only, called on the Libyan people to “pick up weapons” to liberate the country.
But despite Gaddafi’s outward defiance, there are also reports that, simultaneously, representatives of his government are holding talks with rebels over an end to the conflict.
They are said to be meeting at a hotel on the southern Tunisian island of Djerba. However, a government spokesman has denied this.
The speech came after rebels advanced to Zawiyah, a key town close to Tripoli, after months of deadlock. The advance puts them in their strongest position since the uprising against Gaddafi’s 41-year rule began in February.
The rebels are being helped in their cause by Nato, which has a United Nations mandate to protect civilians in Libya. Nato aircraft have been bombing military facilities and equipment as part of this mission – hence Gaddafi’s ire against the organisation.
In his speech, which state TV said was live, he said: “The Libyan people will remain and the Fateh revolution (which brought Gaddafi to power in 1969) will remain. Move forward, challenge, pick up your weapons, go to the fight for liberating Libya inch by inch from the traitors and from Nato.
“Get ready for the fight … The blood of martyrs is fuel for the battlefield.”