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Gaddafi still a threat: Rebels

world Updated: Aug 30, 2011 01:05 IST
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The leader of Libya's ruling council asked NATO to pursue its five-month-old air campaign, which has given essential firepower ragtag rebels who rose against Muammar Gaddafi in February.

"I call for continued protection from NATO and its allies from this tyrant," Mustafa Abdel Jalil said in Qatar, a tiny but wealthy Gulf Arab country that has backed the revolt. "He is still a threat, not just for Libyans but for the entire world."

Libyan forces converged on Gaddafi's hometown of Sirte on Monday, hoping to seal their revolution by capturing the last bastions of a fallen but perhaps still dangerous strongman.

Gaddafi's whereabouts have been unknown since Tripoli fell to his foes and his 42-year-old rule collapsed a week ago.

Abdel Jalil, chairman of the National Transitional Council (NTC), was speaking at a meeting of defence ministers from countries that have supported the anti-Gaddafi movement.

A NATO commander pledged to pursue the alliance's mission, at least until its internal mandate expires on Sept. 27.

"We believe the Gaddafi regime is near collapse, and we're committed to seeing the operation through to its conclusion," U.S. Admiral Samuel Locklear, who heads NATO's Joint Operations Command, told a news conference in the Qatari capital, Doha.

"Pockets of pro-Gaddafi forces are being reduced day by day. The regime no longer has the capacity to mount a decisive operation," he said, adding that NATO air raids had destroyed 5,000 military targets in Libya.

NATO warplanes struck at Sirte, on the Mediterranean coast, for a third day on Sunday, a NATO spokesman said in Brussels.