Report: Qaddafi, Rebels Talking

Libyan rebels and representatives of Muammar Qaddafi held negotiations in a hotel in southern Tunisia, a source claims.

Elad Benari,

Libyan President Muaamar Qaddafi
Libyan President Muaamar Qaddafi
Israel news photo: Wikimedia Commons

Libyan rebels and representatives of leader Muammar Qaddafi’s government held negotiations late on Sunday in a hotel in southern Tunisia, the Reuters news agency reported.

The report cited a source with direct knowledge of the talks, but there was no immediate confirmation that any talks were taking place, either from the government in Tripoli or the rebel movement.

The source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told Reuters that the talks were being conducted behind closed doors at a hotel on the Tunisian island of Djerba, near the border with Libya. He did not identify who was involved in the negotiations.

“Representatives of the rebels and Qaddafi representatives are having a meeting now,” said the source.

Earlier on Sunday it was reported that heavy fighting had erupted on the outskirts of Zawiya in western Libya, as Qaddafi’s regime was forced to employ heavy artillery to fend off a rebel assault on the bridge leading into the town from the south.

Zawiyah witnessed the strongest uprising in the west of Libya against the regime in February, but Qaddafi forces crushed the uprising in a brutal assault that destroyed the town’s main bridge.

Meanwhile, a captured Qaddafi general said Sunday that NATO had underestimated the support Qaddafi enjoys in the Tripoli region.

“For the most part Tripoli is stable,” said the general. “There is some opposition to Qaddafi, but I would say he is safe.”

The general added, “Qaddafi still has the support of key tribes. He is still very strong. He is under threat, but pushing him out will be very difficult. The tribes are the key. He has their support.”

On Friday, the rebels lost 11 men while fighting to capture the strategic oil terminal and refinery at Brega.

The rebels have taken the residential zone of New Brega, but are hoping to capture the terminal and port area which is 10 miles away. Their hope is that capturing the port will be a tipping point in their campaign to oust Qaddafi.