Libyan rebels urge no-fly zone to stop death toll

Wed Mar 9, 2011 11:20am GMT

* Rebel leadership makes impassioned plea for no-fly zone

* Intense diplomatic push, the West reluctant

* Hundreds dying, Gaddafi wants Zawiyah

By Tom Pfeiffer

BENGHAZI, Libya, March 9 (Reuters) - Libya's rebel leadership made an impassioned plea on Wednesday for the international community to impose a no-fly zone to ground Muammar Gaddafi's warplanes and halt the daily death toll.

From his Tripoli stronghold in the west, Gaddafi said on Wednesday that the Libyan people would take up arms if a no-fly zone was enforced as this would prove that Western powers want "to take control of Libya and to steal their oil."

Rebels on the frontline between the rebel-controlled east and Gaddafi's forces in the west are increasingly frustrated at the failure of Washington and the West to act. Rebels constantly fire off machine guns at attacking warplanes.

"They had a no-fly zone in Iraq. Why is Gaddafi their darling and Saddam Hussein was not?" volunteer Naji Saleh told Reuters near the oil town of Ras Lanuf, referring to the air exclusion zone imposed on Iraq for more than a decade.   Continued...

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