- - Tuesday, August 30, 2011


Rebels pledge assault on Gadhafi stronghold

HEISHA — Libyan rebels pledged Tuesday to launch an assault within days on Moammar Gadhafi’s hometown, the ousted strongman’s last major bastion of support, while a top official said the rebels have a “good idea” where Col. Gadhafi is hiding.

The rebels and NATO said that Gadhafi loyalists were negotiating the fate of Sirte, a heavily militarized city some 250 miles east of the capital, Tripoli.

Mustafa Abdel Jalil, the head of the rebels’ National Transitional Council, said that negotiations with forces in Sirte would end Saturday after the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Fitr, when the rebels would “act decisively and militarily.”

We can’t wait more than that,” he told reporters in the eastern city of Benghazi. “We seek and support any efforts to enter these places peacefully. At the end, it might be decided militarily. I hope it will not be the case.”

Canadian air force Col. Roland Lavoie, a NATO spokesman, said it’s possible Sirte might surrender without a fight.


Security forces kill 7 as holy month ends

BEIRUT — Syrian security forces killed at least seven people, including a 13-year-old boy, as thousands of protesters poured out of mosques and marched through cemeteries Tuesday at the start of Eid al-Fitr, a holiday when pious Muslims traditionally visit graves and pray for the dead.

The three-day holiday marks the end of the holy month of Ramadan, a time of introspection that many protesters had hoped would become a turning point in the 5-month-old uprising.

Instead, the government crackdown on dissent intensified and the conflict has become a bloody stalemate.

“They can shoot and kill as much as they want, we will not stop calling for regime change,” an activist in Daraa told the Associated Press by telephone, asking for anonymity out of fear of reprisals.

In Washington, the Obama administration announced a new set of sanctions on Syria. The regulations ban Americans from doing business with President Bashar Assad’s foreign minister, Walid al-Moallem, and two other senior officials, senior adviser Buthaina Shaaban; and Ali Abdul Karim Ali, Syria’s ambassador to Lebanon.

The Treasury Department’s action Tuesday also blocks any assets the Syrian officials may have in the United States.

Tuesday’s bloodshed was in the southern province of Daraa, the central city of Homs and the capital, Damascus, and its suburbs.

Amateur videos posted by activists online showed protesters calling for the downfall of the regime and even the execution of Mr. Assad - a sign of how much the uprising against Mr. Assad has grown in size and anger over the past five months.


Military: Defense minister escapes blast

ADEN — Yemen’s defense minister escaped unharmed when a bomb went off Tuesday in a village in southern Abyan province, an al Qaeda stronghold, a military official said.

“Two soldiers were killed and two others wounded in the explosion of the device in a convoy of the defense minister [Mohammed Nasser Ahmed Ali] near Al-Kud,” a village the army recaptured from al Qaeda two days ago, the official said.

Mr. Ahmed “escaped unhurt,” said the same source, adding the two men who were killed were bodyguards of the south’s military commander, Gen. Mehdi Maqwala, who had been accompanying the minister.

“We have reports that al Qaeda has planted 150 explosive devices in areas it controls, and the explosion today could be due to one of these devices.”

The minister had been on his way to an end-of-Ramadan inspection of brigades fighting against al Qaeda in Abyan, whose capital Zinjibar has been occupied by Islamist militants since the end of May.

Suspected al Qaeda gunmen killed 10 Yemeni soldiers and several others were wounded at Dofes village, near Zinjibar, during clashes on Sunday and Monday, the military said.

In the latest clashes in the area on Tuesday, military shelling killed “six al Qaeda fighters,” whose bodies were taken to hospital in the al Qaeda-held village of Jaar, according to a local official.

From wire dispatches and staff reports



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