The Kremlin’s special envoy to Libya reported that notoriously eccentric strongman Muammar Qaddafi has vowed to blow up Tripoli if it falls into rebel hands, Russian newspaper Izvestia reported Thursday.
“If the rebels seize the city, we will deluge it with missiles and blow it up," Qaddafi's Prime Minister Al-Baghdadi al-Mahmudi recently told Kremlin envoy Mikhail Margelov.
Margelov also is cited as saying: “I presume that the Qaddafi regime has a suicidal plan of this kind.”
The report comes as Qaddafi lays the groundwork for a scorched earth defense in the stronghold region around Tripoli in the face of a potential rebel thrust.
But the civil war in Libya appears to have ground into a stalemate despite a protracted NATO bombing campaign against Qaddafi loyalist forces under a United Nations mandate to protect civilians.
On Wednesday rebels lost ground they had taken just a week before in a routing that lead many to question the rag-tag army's ability to mount a major offensive.
France, who has been arming the rebels, has reportedly grown so frustrated with the slow advance that they opened channels with Qaddafi to negotiate a settlement.