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Libya not a stalemate anymore

Qaddafi hasn't been in such a dire situation since mid-February. He now faces an ICC arrest warrant, unrelenting NATO air strikes, and victorious rebels vowing to march on Tripoli.

By Staff writer / June 28, 2011

Rebel fighters celebrate on the front line, west of Ajdabiyah, after hearing news that the International Criminal Court (ICC) had issued an arrest warrant for Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi on June 27.

Esam Al-Fetori/Reuters

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The International Criminal Court's decision to issue arrest warrants for Libya's Muammar Qaddafi, his son Saif al-Islam, and his intelligence chief could complicate efforts to secure his departure. Now, if he were decide to give up, there will be fewer safe places for him to go.

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But that's not how Libya's rebels see it. They're overjoyed at the latest international effort to isolate the long-time dictator, say he was always unlikely to leave his post any other way than feet first, and have been adamant that Qaddafi isn't to be negotiated with. That's a position that rebel representative Mahmoud Shammam reiterated today in Paris. "I don't think there is any place for direct or indirect contact with Qaddafi," he told reporters.

The ICC announcement touched off celebrations in Benghazi and other eastern towns that are out of the grip of the central government. Meanwhile, the rebels appeared to scored a major victory in the west, where local antigovernment militias have been enjoying a revival in recent weeks, thanks to NATO air strikes that appear to be eroding Qaddafi's ability to project force.

The Los Angeles Times' Borzou Daraghi reports from the Nafusa mountains in the west that rebels "seized control of and pillaged a massive weapons depot Tuesday morning after a short desert battle with troops loyal" to Qaddafi. Al Jazeera English's Johan Hull was also on the scene. He writes that tons of weapons were hauled away into the mountains from the site by rebels, using hundreds of cars. The booty included two Russian-made T-55 tanks. "Seems every man with wheels took part in the haul," he wrote on Twitter. "Will swell morale in the mountains and perhaps add to momentum."

Canadian Lt. Gen. Charles Bouchard, in overall command of the international air campaign against Qaddafi, brushed aside suggestions that NATO should turn down the pressure on Qaddafi and his forces.

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