Turkey said it has offered Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi guarantees to leave Libya, but has yet to receive a reply, as rebels reported his forces killed 20 people in a fierce assault on Misrata.
Fresh NATO-led strikes sent up plumes of smoke on Friday in Tripoli, where Qaddafi has his residence, but US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates warned the air war on the strongman’s forces could be in peril because of military shortcomings.
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said his government had offered exit “guarantees” to the embattled Libyan leader, whom rebels have been trying to oust since February following a bloody crackdown on pro-reform protests.
Qaddafi “has no other option than to leave Libya — with a guarantee to be given to him,” Erdogan said on NTV television. “We have given him this guarantee. We have told him we will help him to be sent wherever he wants to go,” he added, without elaborating.
His comments came after a day of deadly fighting near the port city of Misrata, the rebels’ most significant enclave in western Libya, about 200km from Tripoli.
Qaddafi’s forces had bombarded the Dafnia area on the outskirts of Misrata with Grad rockets, heavy artillery and tank shells, a rebel said.
In Tripoli, residents reported several waves of blasts had rocked the city on Friday.
The Libyan capital has in recent days been subjected to the most intense NATO air raids since the international military campaign was launched on March 19 under a UN mandate to protect Libyan civilians.
Qaddafi’s daughter filed a second war crimes complaint against NATO and France in Paris on Friday over air strikes that killed family members including three infants, her lawyer said.
Aisha Qaddafi filed a similar complaint in Brussels on Tuesday over an April 30 assault on Tripoli, which, according to Libyan officials, killed the strongman’s youngest son and three grandchildren.
Friday’s complaint accused French Defense Minister Gerard Longuet and French President Nicolas Sarkozy of “war crimes” and “assassination,” Qaddafi’s French lawyer Isabelle Coutant-Peyre said.
In Moscow, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev’s special envoy Mikhail Margelov said he would visit Tripoli to try to find a solution to the conflict, having met the opposition in their Benghazi stronghold.
Gates expressed concern on Friday that with half of the countries in the 28-member NATO alliance not participating in the campaign, many simply did not have the wherewithal.
“Frankly, many of those allies sitting on the sidelines do so not because they do not want to participate, but simply because they cannot,” Gates said. “The military capabilities simply aren’t there.”
Several nations taking part in the NATO-led campaign on Libya have contacted the US to replenish their depleted ammunition stocks, US officials said on Friday.
The announcement came as the US Defence Security Cooperation Agency said the US plans to export US$46.1 billion in weapons this year, nearly double its figure for last year.
Belgium, Britain, Canada, France and Italy are also among the nations participating in the attacks on Qaddafi’s regime.