Clinton to Discus Libya Situation During Trip to Turkey
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton heads to Turkey Thursday to discuss the situation in Libya, a day after warning Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi that his days in power "are numbered" and that the international community will soon increase the pressure on him to leave. Clinton departs Washington for Istanbul, where she will attend a meeting with representatives from more than 40 nations that are backing NATO's operations in Libya. Meanwhile, rebels are planning their next moves after retaking a strategic village Wednesday about 100 kilometers south of the capital, Tripoli. The recent success boosts rebel plans for a march on the capital, which is a stronghold of Gadhafi. The retaking of the village of Al-Qawalish came after bitter clashes that killed at least two opposition fighters and wounded 15 others. Rebel forces want to use Al-Qawalish as a staging post to take the nearby town of Garyan, which controls access to the main highway heading north to Tripoli. Also Wednesday, rebels in western Libya faced criticism from a U.S.-based rights group that accused them of damaging property, looting hospitals and homes and assaulting Gadhafi loyalists in opposition-held towns. Human Rights Watch called on the rebels to protect civilians and hold their fighters accountable for the alleged abuses. It said a rebel commander confirmed that abuses had taken place and that some people were punished for the incidents. The rights group said it also has documented "repeated" attacks by Libyan government forces on civilians in some western areas in the past two months.