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Rebel Libyan military leaders prepare Tripoli attack

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Rebel Libyan military leaders prepare Tripoli attack

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Military and diplomatic defections from Colonel Gaddafi’s regime have multiplied as Libya’s revolution gathers momentum.

One dissident army leader spoke to euronews from the rebel-held city of Tobruk.

Daleen Hassan, euronews:

“After taking control of some of the eastern areas of Libya – Benghazi and Tobruk- protesters are forming committees to protect those cities. At the same time, a number of military and police commanders are joining the popular revolution to overthrow the regime of Colonel Gaddafi.

“Joining us now from Tobruk is our special envoy in Libya, Mohamed ElHamy.

“For the latest developments, he is with Colonel Rasheed Rajab from the eastern army contingent, which has broken away from the regime.

“Mohamed, tell us about the security situation in Tobruk, which is in the hand of protesters. And do they also control other cities?”

Mohamed ElHamy, euronews:

“Yes, indeed, the rebels control much of the eastern area up to the Salloum border crossing with Egypt.

“I am in Tobruk, 200 kilometres from Salloum.

Protesters are setting up checkpoints to examine all the cars coming into the east, to be sure there are no mercenaries in them. Most importantly, a lot of army units are breaking away from the regime.

“I am joined by Colonel Rasheed Rajab to give some details on this. Yesterday, the son of Colonel Muammar Gaddafi, Saif al-Islam, asked for a dialogue between the government and revolutionaries. What is your answer?”

Col. Rasheed Rajab:

“We will not accept dialogue. Any dialogue should have taken place at the start, not after bloodshed and victims. They killed a lot of civilians, so no dialogue.”

Mohamed ElHamy, euronews:

“What are the main reasons behind army leaders’ decisions to quit and join up with the protesters. Is it for economic or political reasons?”

Col. Rasheed Rajab:

“The rebels’ demands were for economic reforms, like creating job opportunities for the unemployed and increasing salaries and improving social welfare.

But when we, the army, saw mercenaries arrive in the streets of the city of al-Bayda and start killing innocent people, we decided to quit the regime.”

Mohamed ElHamy, euronews:

“There is information that some dissident leaders want to march on Tripoli or even attack the city to put an end to Colonel Gaddafi’s control. Is there any intention to do this in the days to come?”

Col. Rasheed Rajab:

“Yes. We are moving to prepare weapons and personnel to go to Tripoli to support our brothers there.”

Mohamed ElHamy, euronews:

“There is also information that Gaddafi has a lot of weapons and military aircraft to defend Tripoli. Do you have enough military strength to overpower the regime?”

Col. Rasheed Rajab:

“Yes, we have tanks and anti-aircraft weapons to attack.”

Daleen Hassan, euronews:

“Could you ask our guest if dissident members of the military from all areas of Libya have been working together? Is there a coordinated plan to stage this attack?”

Col. Rasheed Rajab:

“We have contacts with all the breakaway leaders in Benghazi and in al-Bayda so there is organisation behind this attack.”

Daleen Hassan, euronews:

“Thank you Mohammed for this valuable information and thanks to your guest, Col. Rasheed Rajab. We were speaking to our special correspondent in Libya. Thank you.”