BRITISH soldiers are set to be sent to Libya it has emerged, with Downing Street repeatedly refusing to rule out deploying ground troops as ‘peacekeepers’.
Although a spokesman for prime minister Cameron claimed yesterday that a deployment is ‘unlikely at this stage’, British military and intelligence officers have already been operating in Libya for months and are urgently calling for more ‘boots on the ground’.
Two hundred troops from 2nd Battalion the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers, stationed in Cyprus about 1,000 miles from Libya, are ready to fly to the North African state at 24 hours’ notice.
They have been on standby for Libya since the start of July, with all their kit packed, and many more are set to follow them.
NATO jets could be heard screaming almost constantly overhead in Tripoli yesterday, much more than on previous days, with the boom of their bombs shaking the city.
Nato told the counter-revolutionary ‘rebels’ to ‘pull back’ yesterday morning as they went in to bomb and bomb again Colonel Gadaffi’s Bab al-Aziziya compound.
Earlier yesterday mornming, Colonel Gadaffi’s son, Saif al-Islam, had inflicted a shattering blow to the NATO imperialists when he appeared in Tripoli with cheering supporters a day after the counter-revolutionary ‘rebels’ had claimed they had him captured.
The International Criminal Court (ICC) had said on Monday that it was negotiating with the ‘rebels’ to transfer Saif al-Islam into its custody at The Hague.
But the Libyan leader’s son confounded their lies when he arrived in a government vehicle at Tripoli’s Rixos Hotel, where Western journalists are based, in the early hours of yesterday morning, and invited them to accompany him on a tour of ‘the hotspots of Tripoli’.
Standing in a car, surrounded by cheering Libyans, Saif al-Islam proclaimed: ‘We have broken the backbone of the rebels,’ and by moving into Tripoli, they have fallen into ‘a trap’.
‘We gave them a hard time, so we’re winning,’ he added.
Damning the NATO invaders, he continued: ‘They blocked and jammed communications. They sent messages to the Libyan people through the Libyana network.
‘They created a media and electronic war to spread chaos and fear in Libya.
‘They also smuggled saboteur gangs through the sea of civilian cars into the city to create a mess.
‘You’ve seen how the Libyan people rose up together, men and women, to break the spine of the rebels, rats, and gangs, yesterday and today.
‘Now we’ll tour the hotspots of Tripoli, so you can see the situation is good and everything is well.
‘We want to reassure the world that the situation in Libya is excellent, thank God.’
Surrounded by supporters, Saif al-Islam added: ‘We are here. This is our country, this is our people, we live here and we die here, and we are going to win because the people are with us, that is why we are going to win.
‘Look at them, look at them, in the cities, everywhere.’
A western journalist who interviewed Saif al-Islam reported later: ‘My first question to him was “Where is your father, where is Muammar Gadaffi?” and he said “he’s here, he’s with us”.’
Asked if his father was safe and in Tripoli, he replied: ‘Of course’.
Yesterday, the ICC denied having received confirmation from the ‘rebels’ that Saif al-Islam had been detained and an ICC spokesman said different rebel factions had given different information.
Saif al-Islam said he did not care about the ICC arrest warrant.
When asked if he was a fugitive from international justice, Saif guffawed, saying: ‘Damn the Commission’.