Kadhafi offered way out amid deadly clashes

Turkey said it has offered Moamer Kadhafi guarantees to leave Libya but has yet to receive a reply, as rebels reported his forces killed 20 people in a fierce assault on Misrata.

Smoke rises after coalition air strikes in Tripoli June 7, 2011

Fresh NATO-led strikes sent up plumes of smoke Friday in Tripoli, where Kadhafi has his residence, but US Defence Secretary Robert Gates warned the air war on the strongman's forces could be in peril because of military shortcomings.

In a military update on Friday's strikes, the British defence ministry said its fighters had destroyed four tanks "hidden in an orchard" near the town of Al-Aziziyah, southwest of Tripoli.

Tornado and Typhoon jets also bombed a military base at Al-Mayah on the western outskirts of the capital, it said.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said his government had offered exit "guarantees" to the embattled Libyan leader, whom rebels have been trying to oust since February following a bloody crackdown on pro-reform protests.

Kadhafi "has no other option than to leave Libya -- with a guarantee to be given to him," Erdogan said on NTV television.

"We have given him this guarantee. We have told him we will help him to be sent wherever he wants to go," he added, without elaborating.

"Depending on the reply we will get from him, we will take up the issue with our (NATO) allies, but unfortunately we have received no reply so far."

His comments came after a day of deadly fighting near the port city of Misrata, the rebels' most significant enclave in western Libya, some 200 kilometres (125 miles) from Tripoli.

Kadhafi's forces had bombarded the Dafnia area on Misrata's outskirts with Grad rockets, heavy artillery and tank shells, a rebel said.

"Twenty people, both civilians and rebels, were killed and more than 80 wounded," in the sector, 35 kilometres (22 miles) from Misrata city centre, he added.

But they had beaten back an attack by loyalist troops, leaving "dead and wounded among the Kadhafi forces," he said.

In Tripoli, residents reported several waves of blasts had rocked the city on Friday.

The Libyan capital has in recent day been subjected to the most intense NATO air raids since the international military campaign was launched on March 19 under a UN mandate to protect Libyan civilians.

Kadhafi's daughter filed a second war crimes complaint against NATO and France in Paris on Friday over air strikes that killed family members including three infants, her lawyer said.

Aisha Kadhafi filed a similar complaint in Brussels on Tuesday over an April 30 assault on Tripoli, which, according to Libyan officials, killed the strongman's youngest son and three grandchildren.

Friday's complaint accused French Defence Minister Gerard Longuet and President Nicolas Sarkozy of "war crimes" and "assassination," said Kadhafi's French lawyer Isabelle Coutant-Peyre.

In Moscow, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev's special envoy Mikhail Margelov said he would visit Tripoli to try to find a solution to the conflict, having met the opposition in their Benghazi stronghold.

Gates, the Pentagon chief, expressed concern Friday with half of the countries in the 28-member NATO alliance not participating in the campaign, many simply did not have the wherewithal.

"Frankly, many of those allies sitting on the sidelines do so not because they do not want to participate, but simply because they cannot," Gates said.

"The military capabilities simply aren't there."

Several nations taking part in the NATO-led campaign on Libya have contacted the United States to replenish their depleted ammunition stocks, US officials said Friday.

The announcement came as the US Defence Security Cooperation Agency said the United States plans to export $46.1 billion in weapons this year, nearly doubling its 2010 figures.

Belgium, Britain, Canada, France and Italy are also among the nations participating in the attacks on Kadhafi's regime.

US Senator Carl Levin, head of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said Kadhafi's forces had been "severely degraded" and the NATO operation was "going well", following a briefing from Pentagon officials.

Kadhafi sent a letter to the US Congress praising its criticism of President Barack Obama over Libya, a Washington source said.

"We are confident that history will see the wisdom of your country in debating these issues," said the letter seen by AFP, signed by Kadhafi as "Commander of the Great Revolution."

Congressional sources said they could not confirm the letter's authenticity.

Italian border guards, meanwhile, said three boats carry 667 African refugees from Libya, many of them women, landed Saturday on the island of Lampedusa, which has already seen thousands of arrivals from unrest in North Africa.

Source: AFP

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