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Libyan Rebels Gain New Diplomatic Allies, Plan to Fight During Ramadan

July 27, 2011 at 12:00 AM EDT
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GWEN IFILL: Next, Libyan rebels gain friends abroad, but not much ground at home.

Ray Suarez has our report.

RAY SUAREZ: Britain today added itself to a list of more than 30 countries, including the United States, now giving diplomatic recognition to the rebels’ National Transitional Council.

British Foreign Secretary William Hague:

WILLIAM HAGUE, British foreign secretary: The National Transitional Council has shown its commitment to a more open and democratic Libya, something that it is working to achieve through an inclusive political process. This is in stark contrast to Gadhafi, whose brutality against the Libyan people has stripped him of all legitimacy.

RAY SUAREZ: Hague also said the move paves the way for the rebels to get access to $150 million of Libyan oil money now held in Britain. And he announced the expulsion of the few remaining envoys from Colonel Gadhafi’s regime within three days. But they could reportedly be given more time if they choose to defect.

Gadhafi, meanwhile, continues to reject calls to step down. And in a further act of defiance, Libyan state television yesterday showed the Lockerbie bomber, Abdel Basset Ali al-Megrahi, at a pro-government rally. His appearance comes nearly two years after he was returned from Britain on humanitarian grounds because his doctors said he was months away from dying from cancer.

On the ground in Libya, a virtual stalemate continues. Over the past five months NATO has flown more than 6,000 bombing sorties on government targets. But pro-Gadhafi forces have still been able to keep the rebels from making significant advances on the capital, Tripoli.

Anti-Gadhafi forces control much of the east and pockets in the west. The rebels say they will continue to fight during the holy month of Ramadan, which begins next week.