Libya Rebel: “Even if 400,000 people die and only 100,000 live, this is a victory”
Misurata says it has asked for foreign ground troops
Leila Fadel, The Washington Post, April 19
The top governing committee in the besieged western city of Misurata said Tuesday it has made an official request for foreign troops on the ground here to stop the killing of civilians by Gaddafi forces.
The request, which a committee spokesman said was submitted last week, marks the first time ground troops have been sought in Libya as a humanitarian crisis looms here following a nearly two-months-long siege by Libyan leader Moammar Gaddafi’s forces. Food, water and gas are running out in the strategic port city as an untrained and outgunned rebel force tries to stave off artillery and rocket attacks on residential neighborhoods.
“We need a force from NATO or the United Nations on the ground now,” said Nouri Abdullah Abdulati, of the city’s 17-member judicial committee, speaking to a handful of reporters.
The committee signed a formal request that was then sent to the Transitional National Council in Benghazi, the de facto capital of the opposition east, Abdulati said, adding that no reply has been received. The council is the only link between Misurata and NATO commanders, and it has maintained that it does not want foreign troops in Libya.
“We did not accept any foreign soldiers on our land. But that was before we faced the crimes of Gaddafi,” Abdulati said Tuesday. “We are asking on the basis of humanitarian and Islamic principles for someone to come and stop the killing. . . . The whole Arab world is calling for the intervention of the West for the first time in history.”
Abdulati said the committee would want British or French troops to fight alongside rebel fighters in Misurata, both to protect civilians and to fight off Gaddafi forces.
“It’s a situation of life or death,” he said. “If they don’t come, we will die.”
He added that Misurata residents are ready to die for their freedom and that they understand many would.
“Even if 400,000 people die and only 100,000 live, this is a victory,” he said.
As Abdulati spoke, distant explosions from rocket and mortar attacks could be heard, now a normal backdrop here. He added that the United Nations was obligated to send in troops to protect civilians.
“This is an urgent situation,” he said.