Libyan Rebels Push West As Gaddafi Receives Crimes Warning

Venezuela said the Libyan leader had agreed to its proposal for an international commission to negotiate an end to the turmoil in the world’s 12th largest oil exporting nation.

But Gaddafi’s son Saif al Islam said there was no need for any foreign mediation in the crisis, a leader of the uprising rejected talks with the veteran leader, and the Arab League said cautiously the plan was “under consideration.”

In Paris, French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe said France and Britain would support the idea of setting up a no-fly zone over Libya if Gaddafi’s forces continued to attack civilians.

U.S. President Barack Obama said the United States and the international community must be ready to act rapidly to stop violence against civilians or a humanitarian crisis in Libya.

The uprising, the bloodiest yet against a long-serving ruler in the Middle East or North Africa, has torn through the OPEC-member country and knocked out nearly 50 percent of its 1.6 million barrels per day output, the bedrock of its economy.

In eastern Libya, witnesses said a warplane bombed Brega the oil terminal town 800 km (500 miles) east of Tripoli, for the second day, part of a struggle for control of a strategically vital coast road and oil industry facilities.

Warplanes also launched two raids against the nearby rebel-held town of Ajbadiya, witnesses said.

“CIVILIAN AREAS NOT BOMBED”

But Juma Amer, Secretary for African Affairs at the Libyan Foreign Ministry, told journalists: “Media reports that civilian areas were bombed are false. Police had been and are urged to use maximum self restraint.”

Saif said Brega was bombed to scare off militia fighters and to gain control of oil installations.

“First of all the bombs (were) just to frighten them to go away,” he told Britain’s Sky News.

On the ground, rebels leading the unprecedented popular revolt pushed their front line west of Brega.

They said they had driven back troops loyal to Gaddafi to Ras Lanuf, site of another major oil terminal and 600 km (375 miles) east of Tripoli.

They also said they had captured a group of mercenaries.

In an angry scene at al-Uqayla, east of Ras Lanuf, a rebel shouted at a captured young African and alleged mercenary: “You were carrying guns, yes or no? You were with Gaddafi’s brigades yes or no?”

The silent youth was shoved onto his knees into the dirt. A man held a pistol close to the boy’s face before a reporter protested and told the man the rebels were not judges. Reuters