Gaddafi's forces now wearing gas masks

Forces loyal to Colonel Mummar Gaddafi in Libya were seen wearing gas masks on Monday, raising speculation that the ruler may use chemical weapons against rebels.

Gaddafi had given rebels in the besieged city of Misrata until midnight on Tuesday to surrender their forces or face the “fires from hell.” The Gaddafi-led troops were seen wearing the gas masks for the first time since the uprising against his rule began seven weeks ago, the Daily Mail reports.

The fear of chemical weapons prompted rebel fighters in Misrata to radio for immediate supplies of their own protective masks to be shipped from Benghazi, their stronghold to the East. The fighters are surrounded on the other three sides by Gaddafi’s forces.

“Our men there no longer just want weapons and ammunition,” a senior rebel commander in Benghazi said, according to the Daily Mail. “They are pleading for gas masks – they know Gaddafi is capable of anything.”

More than 1,000 people have been killed in Misrata after a fierce attack by Gaddafi’s forces. Up to 2,000 people chanted Gaddafi’s name on Monday in Tripoli at a funeral for his 29-year-old son and three grandchildren who had been allegedly killed in Saturday’s Nato airstrike.

Angry mobs attacked British and other Western embassies across the city, though the buildings were empty and nobody is reported to have been injured.

General Abdul Fatah Younis, who was a Libyan interior minister before defecting to the opposition, claimed that the dictator would be ready to use chemical weapons in a last stand against the rebels or civilian population.

“He will fight up to the final drop of his blood,” Younis said, according to the Daily Mail. “Gaddafi is desperate now. He still has about 25 per cent of his chemical weapons. He always says: ‘You will love me or I will kill you.’”