Fight to the death

Britain
and France said they were seeking U.N. authority for a no-fly zone over Libya,
as Muammar Gaddafi’s warplanes counter-attacked against rebels and aid
officials said a million people were in need.

Rebels swiftly rejected an olive
branch offered by an associate of Gaddafi, and fighting escalated around a key
oil port.

The aging autocrat warned that if
he fell thousands of refugees would “invade Europe.”

With civilians surrounded by forces
loyal to Gaddafi in two western towns, Misrata and Zawiyah, fears grew of a
rising humanitarian crisis if the fighting continued.

U.N. aid coordinator Valerie Amos
said more than a million people fleeing or inside the country needed
humanitarian aid.

The U.N. appealed for financial
support totalling $160 million to fund an operation over the next three months
to get shelter, food and medicines ready.

“We are working closely with
partners on a contingency basis on elements of a resolution on a no-fly zone,
making clear the need for regional support, a clear trigger for such a
resolution and an appropriate legal basis,” British Foreign Secretary
William Hague said.

A French diplomatic source said
France was “working with our partners in New York on a no-fly zone
resolution.”

Gulf states called for a no-fly
zone and for an urgent Arab League meeting.

The White House said all options
were on the table, including arming rebels.

Russia,
a permanent member of the U.N. Security Council with veto powers, said it
opposed foreign military intervention.

 “The Libyans have to solve their problems
by themselves,” Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said.

NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh
Rasmussen stressed the need for UN authorization. “I can’t imagine the
international community and the United Nations would stand idly by if Gaddafi
and his regime continue to attack their own people,” he said.

“We have asked our military to
conduct all necessary planning so that we stand ready at short notice,” he
added.

NATO has launched 24-hour air
surveillance of Libya with AWACS reconnaissance aircraft, U.S. ambassador to
NATO Ivo Daalder said.

Daalder said NATO representatives
were discussing other possible moves, including a no-fly zone and helping to
enforce the U.N.-mandated arms embargo on Libya, ahead of a meeting of NATO defence
ministers on Thursday.

 

WORLDFighttothedeathSTORY

A rebel fighter fires his rifle at a military aircraft loyal to Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi at a checkpoint in Ras Lanuf, Monday.
Photo: msnbc.com
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