TRIPOLI, Libya – Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi’s regime brusquely swatted down a truce offered by rebels Friday and continued to pummel opposition positions in both the eastern and western sections of the country.
After rebels had refused for weeks to negotiate with Gadhafi’s government, the leader of the opposition national council, Mustafa Abdul Jalil, offered a cease-fire if Gadhafi agreed to withdraw his forces from besieged Libyan cities and permitted peaceful protests.
But Musa Ibrahim, a spokesman for the regime, dismissed the offer as a trick.
“You’re not offering peace if you’re making impossible demands,” Ibrahim told reporters in Tripoli. “We will not leave our cities. We will not stop protecting our civilians. If you want peace, you leave things as they are. You sit down and you make peace. If you’re making impossible demands, that’s a trick.”
The truce offer came as a military stalemate continued in the battle between Gadhafi’s fighters and the ragtag rebels attempting to topple him. While the rebels appear frustrated by their inability to defeat Gadhafi militarily, the regime in Tripoli appears anxious about its isolation from the international community.
In Britain, media reports said Mohammed Ismail, a close aide to Seif Islam Gadhafi, the Libyan leader’s second son and heir apparent, was recently in London and held meetings with British officials. Some reports suggested that the British government merely reiterated its demand that the elder Gadhafi step down.
Some analysts said the reports raised the prospect that more members of Gadhafi’s inner circle might be seeking a diplomatic exit strategy or just a way out of the country. Former Foreign Minister Moussa Koussa defected to Britain late Wednesday, and another diplomat surfaced Thursday in Egypt and denounced the regime.
But the British foreign ministry declined to confirm that the talks took place.
Western officials have publicly accused Gadhafi of duplicity. His deputies have announced several cease-fires even while Gadhafi forces have bombarded rebel-held cities such as Misrata and Zintan in the west and battled rebels in the east. On Friday his forces continued to hammer away at civilian targets in Misrata, attacking food supply warehouses and storming homes in the rebel-held city, Libya’s third largest, according to a rebel spokesman.