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Libyans Brace For Bloody Battles As Muammar Gaddafi Clings To Power

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TERRIFIED Tripoli residents were preparing for an escalation of violence as embattled leader Muammar Gaddafi continued to cling to power despite a widespread popular uprising.

A defiant Gaddafi vowed to fight protesters and threatened to arm his civilian supporters, as world leaders scrambled to make diplomatic efforts to end the violence that reportedly claimed thousands of lives already.

Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi said that the Libyan leader appeared to no longer be in control of the situation in the country.

“It seems that, effectively, Gaddafi no longer controls the situation in Libya. If we can all come to an agreement, we can end this bloodbath and support the Libyan people,” he said at a political rally in Italy.

The leaders of Germany and Britain also agreed on the need for “severe” international sanctions to be imposed as quickly as possible on the Libyan regime.

In a telephone conversation, German chancellor Angela Merkel and British prime minister David Cameron agreed on the need for urgent UN sanctions, according to a statement from the German government’s deputy spokesman, Christoph Steegmans.

The two leaders believe “the United Nations Security Council must adopt severe sanctions as quickly as possible against the regime in Tripoli,” he said, adding that Britain and Germany also agreed on the need for European Union sanctions.

The UN Security Council called a special session to consider a sanctions resolution against the Libyan leader on top of those from President Barack Obama and the European Union in a clear attempt to weaken his teetering regime.

As the diplomatic moves continued, the last British rescue flight left London’s Gatwick Airport bound for Tripoli to rescue trapped UK nationals, as the Foreign Office said that 600 Britons were already evacuated from North African state.

Any British citizens still in Tripoli were urged to head for the airport at first light, as terrified residents braced for bloody battles.

The US State Department warned there “may be” Americans still remaining in Libya despite efforts to evacuate all US nationals, as State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said that “we are aware that there may be Americans still in Libya that may need assistance departing the country. In order to help, our task force will remain up and running to make sure that if there are any Americans remaining, we can assist them.”

China said it evacuated 16,000 nationals from Libya, as an increasingly-isolated Ghadafi clung to power despite protests that began February 15.

A Kuwaiti cargo plane loaded with 10 tons of medical supplies was also on its way to Libya yesterday, KUNA reported.

Gaddafi appeared determined to cling to power, telling supporters in Tripoli’s Green Square to “prepare to defend Libya” in his latest public appearance Friday.

The erratic, unpredictable Gaddafi, speaking from atop a rampart in images shown on state television, also declared that arms depots would be open to his supporters if necessary, AFP reported.

The strongman also vowed that “we will fight them and beat” the protesters, whose weeks of battles with government troops vastly weakened his onetime stranglehold on power.

“Life without dignity has no value, life without green flags has no value. Sing, dance and prepare yourselves,” he told the cheering crowd.

With Libya’s east increasingly under opposition control, protesters took charge of the eastern city of Brega and its oil terminal on Friday, an official at the communications department for the Port of Brega told CNN.

Meanwhile, Libya’s former deputy UN ambassador, Ibrahim Dabbashi, said Gaddafi was “psychologically unstable” and “has the choice between being killed or commit[ing] suicide.”

Dabbashi, who defected from the Tripoli government earlier this week, added that “there are already thousands of people who have been killed. We expect more.”

Gaddafi’s eldest son, Saif al Islam Gaddafi, in an interview with CNN-Turk taped on Friday in Tripoli, vowed that his father would never leave the country.

Asked if his father had a “Plan B” to leave Libya, he replied, “We have Plan A, Plan B, Plan C. Plan A is to live and die in Libya. Plan B is to live and die in Libya. Plan C is to live and die in Libya.”

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Libyans Brace For Bloody Battles As Muammar Gaddafi Clings To Power

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