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Gaddafi foes consider requesting foreign airstrikes as stalemate continues

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Thousands who are fleeing Libya, many of them foreign workers, remain stuck on the Tunisian side of the border as they're having trouble getting back to their home countries. (March 1)

"We don't want another Afghanistan or Iraq," one committee member said. "But there is no balance. He [Gaddafi] has all the weapons and the money."

"There is a crisis," said Salwa Bugaighis, a lawyer involved with the coalition. "There's conflict between despair and hope for foreign intervention."

Bugaighis said the committee had no direct contacts with foreign governments. But she said a national council formed earlier this week to govern eastern Libya during the standoff may gain legitimacy in the international community and create an opportunity for foreign help.

Despite claims by military leaders that they were sending rebel forces to Tripoli to help liberate the city, it was clear that they could not overcome the capability of Gaddafi's well-armed loyalists. So far, it appears that no rebel forces have arrived in the capital, and the city remains largely under Gaddafi's control.

Indeed, the battle for control of the North African country seemed to be settling into a stalemate, with pro-Gaddafi forces unable to recapture any of the cities or territory held by the opposition, despite episodic attacks that included the use of helicopters and warplanes, residents and opposition officials said. The strikes demonstrated that the regime remained able to fight back with potentially lethal weaponry.

At the same time, Tripoli residents opposed to Gaddafi so far have been unable to seize control of his stronghold and achieve their ultimate goal of ousting him from power - a fact made evident by Gaddafi's hosting of U.S. and British reporters at a seaside restaurant in the capital.

Opposition groups have asked the international community to keep any aircraft still under Gaddafi's control from flying or firing on them.

In what amounted to his first news conference since protests broke out in the country, Gaddafi held court on Monday with reporters from ABC, the BBC and London's Sunday Times - a performance U.S. officials promptly labeled "delusional."

He said he could not step down from power because, under Libya's peculiar "stateless" form of socialism, he is not a president or a king. He also asserted that there have been no demonstrations against him in Tripoli, ABC News reported.

"They love me," Gaddafi said in the interview. "All my people [are] with me. . . . They will die to protect me."

Gaddafi also denied ever using force against his people, accused al-Qaeda of encouraging young Libyans to seize arms from military installations and said he felt betrayed by the United States.

"I'm surprised that we have an alliance with the West to fight al-Qaeda, and now that we are fighting terrorists they have abandoned us," he said. "Perhaps they want to occupy Libya."


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