- Title: LIBYA: Western forces hit civilian targets, says Libya
- Date: 20th March 2011
- Summary: TRIPOLI, LIBYA (MARCH 19, 2011) (REUTERS) NIGHT SHOTS OF PEOPLE GATHERED AT LIBYAN LEADER MUAMMAR GADDAFI'S COMPOUND VARIOUS OF PEOPLE CHANTING MAN HOLDING BANNER READING: "We are waiting for you" ARMY CORDONING SUPPORTERS VARIOUS OF CROWD CHANTING SOLDIER IN A BUILDING MEN ON TOP OF A POLE CHANTING WIDE OF PEOPLE CELEBRATING WOMAN HOLDING PICTURE OF GADDAFI CHANTING MAN CHANTING WIDE OF PRESS CONFERENCE REPORTER TAKING NOTES SOUNDBITE (Arabic) SECRETARY OF THE GENERAL PEOPLE'S CONGRESS OF LIBYA, MOHAMED ABDUL QUASIM AL-ZWAI, SAYING: "Some of the which were targeted today was civilian places and some are military places. Honestly I can not give you names of the locations but they hit civilian buildings and all inheritance of them are civilians." WIDE OF THE PRESS CONFERENCE SOUNDBITE (Arabic) MOHAMED ABDUL QUASIM AL-ZWAI, SAYING: "This is barbaric aggression against the Libyan people comes while we announce the ceasefire against the armed militias which are part of al Qaeda in the Islamic maghreb." JOURNALIST TAKING NOTES WIDE OF THE PRESS CONFERENCE
- Embargoed: 4th April 2011 01:20
- Location: Libya
- Country: Libya
- Topics: War / Fighting
- Reuters ID: LVA7RB8X9IHDZ96M5CTP7DLVSBVW
- Aspect Ratio: 4:3
- Story Text: Secretary of the General People's Congress of Libya Mohamed Abdul Quasim al-Zwai said on Saturday (March 19) Western forces, bombarded civilian areas of several cities, including the capital Tripoli, Muammar Gaddafi's hometown Sirte and the rebel stronghold of Benghazi.
He said a hospital in the suburbs of Tripoli had been hit.
"Some of the which were targeted today was civilian places and some are military places. Honestly I can not give you names of the locations but they hit civilian buildings and all inheritance of them are civilians," said al-Zawi.
The Secretary also called the attack as act of naked brutality.
"This is barbaric aggression against the Libyan people comes while we announce the ceasefire against the armed militias which are part of al Qaeda in the Islamic maghreb," he said.
Thousands of people gathered at the compound of Libyan Leader Muammar Gaddafi, acting as human shields overnight.
U.S. forces joined those of four other countries in launching military action against Libya on Saturday, and President Barack Obama said U.S. involvement was limited and only in support of an international effort.
The United States, France, Britain, Canada and Italy began launching strikes designed to cripple Muammar Gaddafi's air defences, as the West tries to force the Libyan leader from power. At least some Arab nations are expected to join the coalition later.
Many Arabs welcomed Western military action in Libya on Saturday as a sign the world would not tolerate oppression, but their support was tinged with concern at another foreign intervention in the Arab world.
The French air force destroyed tanks and armoured vehicles in the first shots fired under a military intervention aimed at protecting civilians from Muammar Gaddafi's forces. The United States later said it fired cruise missiles at Libyan targets.
Gaddafi, fighting the most serious challenge to his 42-year rule, unleashed a ruthless counter-attack after losing control of swathes of the North African country, determined to avoid the fate of toppled presidents in neighbouring Egypt and Tunis.
Arab leaders in Bahrain and Yemen are also facing determined challenges. Protests have spread to other Gulf countries and even tightly-controlled Syria, where four protesters were killed by security forces on Friday.
"The operation is a strong message to rulers that the dictator era is over," said Ali Abdul Rahman in Sanaa, where protesters have called for the end of President Ali Abdullah Saleh's 32-year rule of their impoverished country.
"The beginning of the no-fly zone is a positive step...It came late and we would have preferred if the Arab countries were the ones that carried out this step," Mohammed al-Sharki, an activist in Yemen's youth movement said. "But this step will still have a positive impact on the situation in Yemen because the regime understands that the international community will not be silent over oppression."
Up to 42 people were killed by rooftop snipers on Friday during a protest in the Yemeni capital.
In Syria's southern city of Deraa, scene of the boldest challenge yet to President Bashar al-Assad's rule, IT teacher Tamer Jawabrah said Western intervention in Libya brought back painful memories of the 2003 United States invasion of Iraq.
"We would have wanted an Arab intervention in Libya," he said. "This reminds us of the intervention in Iraq. I am with a limited no-fly zone but not bombardment."
At least 10,000 people demonstrated in Deraa on Saturday at the funeral of two protesters killed the day before. But Deraa merchant Amin Hamaydah said they did not want outside help.
"Our demands are to end corruption and (grant) freedoms. We are able to do this with our own hands, not by a foreign hand."
Few people in the Arab world have sympathy for Gaddafi, who made enemies across the region. Saudi Arabia accused him of plotting to kill King Abdullah in 2003, Lebanese Shi'ites hold him responsible for the disappearance of charismatic cleric Musa al-Sadr, and in the 1990s he expelled thousands of Palestinians.
Lebanon's Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah accused Gaddafi of oppressing Libyans with "the same type of war which Israel conducted against Lebanon and Gaza".
But he chastised Arab leaders for failing to act themselves, and for giving Western forces the chance to bring back "the era of occupations and direct colonialism" in the Arab world.
"Today, unfortunately, as a result of most Arab and Muslim leaders abandoning their responsibilities, the door has been opened to foreign intervention in Libya and we do not know where matters are heading," Nasrallah said in a televised speech.
Saudi commentator Jamal Khashoggi said the confrontation with Gaddafi was a "noble cause because Libyans are fighting for their freedom and getting rid of a bloody dictator."
Saudi Arabia, which strongly supports international efforts to protect the Libyan rebels, found itself on the other side of the argument in neighbouring Bahrain. It sent troops to help Sunni Muslim ruling al-Khalifa family subdue protests by the island's majority Shi'ites, who have called for greater rights.
"The Bahraini opposition fell into sectarian demands. They called for the downfall of the Khalifa and that worries anybody," said Khashoggi, comparing what he called Iran's growing influence in Bahrain to "bringing the Soviets to Cuba in 1960".
In Egypt, where people flocked to vote on Saturday in a referendum on political reforms after the overthrow of Hosni Mubarak, there were few tears for Gaddafi or other Arab leaders facing popular uprisings.
"I am sure each and every one of those (Arab) presidents know very well what they have committed and how much they have stolen from their peoples so I have no remorse for what's happening," said university student Shahinda Abdulla. "On the contrary, I think this is the bare minimum, more should happen."
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