- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 1, 2011

A defiant Moammar Gadhafi on Thursday vowed never to surrender, as rebels extended their deadline for forces loyal to the Libyan dictator to end a civil war that has dragged on for more than six months.

In an audio message broadcast on Syria-based Al-Rai TV, Col. Gadhafi said tribes loyal to him are well-armed and prepared for a fierce battle.

“We wont surrender again. We are not women. We will keep fighting,” he said.

He warned “the battle will be long and let Libya burn.”

The broadcast came on the 42nd anniversary of the coup that brought Col. Gadhafi to power.

Rebels, meanwhile, said they were closing in on Col. Gadhafi, who they believe is hiding in one of regimes three last remaining strongholds: Sirte to the east of Tripoli, the town of Bani Walid 90 miles southeast of the capital, and Sebha, a city in the south.

The rebels have been in touch with tribal leaders in these areas with the goal of negotiating a surrender. However, Mohamed, a rebel spokesman in Tripoli who only gave his first name, said the Gadhafi loyalists “are not serious about negotiating.”

“Time is running out. We need to liberate our country quickly so that the transitional government can start governing all of Libya,” he added.

The rebels had give the loyalists until Saturday to surrender but extended the deadline by a week on Thursday.

Rebels approaching Sirte from the east were less than 60 miles from Sirte, according to two rebel sources who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

The International Criminal Court has issued arrest warrants for Col. Gadhafi, his son and onetime heir apparent Seif al-Islam, and brother-in-law Abdullah Senussi, who was the regime’s intelligence chief.

A spokeswoman for the International Criminal Court said the prosecutor’s office had received evidence of atrocities committed by other members of the Gadhafi regime, including Col. Gadhafis Russia-trained son Khamis Gadhafi.

Khamis Gadhafi heads the Libyan army’s 32nd Brigade, which rebels say has been committed atrocities against civilians and rebels.

“We have evidence against other individuals, including Khamis, but we will not use this evidence to present new cases,” Florence Olara, a spokeswoman for the court, told The Times.

“The investigation is ongoing including investigating allegations of rape in Libya. Consequently, it is difficult and premature to try and predict what will happen,” she said in response to a question on whether a warrant would also be issued for Khamis Gadhafi.

The Times first reported that the 32nd Brigade massacred more than 150 detainees at two sites near Tripoli last week.

More than 40,000 people from across Libya have disappeared since the start of the uprising in February.

People were kidnapped from cities, including Benghazi in the east, and Misrata and Tripoli in the west.

“We were hoping to find them in Tripolis prisons, but they were not there,” said Ibtisam al-Kilani, a Paris-based Libyan lawyer.

“We dont know if they are in Sirte or have been killed.”

Around 12,000 people were released from prisons in Tripoli, after rebels stormed the Libyan capital last week.

“They were subjected to horrible things. As the dust settles we will learn a lot of bad things were committed by this regime,” said Ms. al-Kilani.

Meanwhile in Paris, representatives from 60 countries met to discuss a post-Gadhafi Libya.