Allies Fear Gadhafi May Unleash Chemical Weapons

US forces monitoring sites
By Mary Papenfuss,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 24, 2011 1:20 AM CDT
Updated Aug 24, 2011 7:57 AM CDT
Allies Fear Gadhafi May Unleash Chemical Weapons
Rebel fighters gesture and shoot in the air as they celebrate overrunning Moammar Gadhafi's compound Bab al-Aziziya in Tripoli early today.   (AP Photo/Sergey Ponomarev)

(Newser) – As the battle for Libya nears its endgame, Western nations allied with the rebels fear a desperate Moammar Gadhafi could unleash chemical weapons as his final brutal act. US armed forces are monitoring suspected chemical weapons sites. "They are a vicious regime,” British Foreign Minister William Hague told the BBC. "They are in their death throes. There are people still out there. That’s why we can’t rule out any of those things. There are many weapons out there.” Gadhafi vowed in an audio address today that he will fight on to victory or "martyrdom," and insisted that the loss of his compound to rebels was a "tactical decision," reports Reuters.

He called on Libyans to "cleanse" the capital of rebel "devils." Gadhafi gave up most of his chemical and biological weapon stockpiles after 2003, but kept ingredients needed to make mustard gas at desert sites, reports the Telegraph. NATO officials also fear Gadhafi or his supporters could still launch the regime's arsenal of Scud missiles—some 240 of them—on Libya's civilian population or Europe, which Gadhafi threatened last week to strike out against in retaliation for NATO's involvement in the overthrow of his regime. One Scud was fired just days ago from Misrata, but apparently missed its target and fell into the sea. (Read more Tripoli stories.)

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