Tripoli/Cairo, March 9 (DPA) A private jet belonging to Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi landed at Cairo International Airport Wednesday, with on board an army general carrying a message for Egyptian authorities, officials said.
A Libyan diplomat confirmed the presence of General Abdel-Rahman Ben Ali al-Zawi in Cairo, but did not provide any details.
The Falcon jet left Libya and passed through Greek airspace at around midday, flying just south of the Mediterranean island of Crete, before arriving in Cairo.
Greek newspaper reports said Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou had a telephone conversation late Tuesday night with Gaddafi, who warned the West not to intervene in his country’s affairs.
“Greece is a friend of Libya and can pass on this piece of advice to the European Union,” Libya’s state-run Jana news agency quoted Gaddafi as saying.
Meanwhile, opposition forces in Libya said Gaddafi’s forces were moving into Ras Lanuf to take back the oil-rich city from rebel hands, as part of an eastern push towards Benghazi – the first city to fall under rebel control.
Fierce fighting between Gaddafi opponents and government forces has also taken place over the past few days in the western city of al-Zawiyah, near the capital Tripoli, and in Ras Lanuf.
The opposition has vowed to fight back, despite unconfirmed reports of deaths and injuries caused by air strikes and ground attacks by Gaddafi loyalists.
“We have two options: Either freedom and access to development, or slavery under the feet of the tyrant Moamer Gaddafi,” read a statement posted on the website of the rebels’ National Council, based in Benghazi.
The opposition said its forces could not reach Gaddafi’s hometown of Sirte due to the presence of key military camps equipped with heavy artillery and guns stationed along the only roads that lead westward to the city.
In a speech to supporters broadcast by state television early Wednesday, Gaddafi accused the US, France and Britain of conspiring against Libya to take control of its oil fields.
He called on young men in Az-Zintan – a city in the northwest of the country that government forces and opponents are fighting to control – to abandon the rebels, whom he called “traitors”.
Gaddafi, who has ruled the country for nearly 42 years, was speaking to members of a clan based in the city who pledged their loyalty to him.