Skip to main content

General: 'Low likelihood' rebels could oust Gadhafi

By the CNN Wire Staff
Click to play
Forces clashing in Eastern Libya
  • The head of U.S. Africa Command speaks before a Senate committee
  • Carter Ham wants a better handle on who the rebels are
  • Regime forces remain active in Misrata

Washington (CNN) -- A top U.S. general said Thursday he doubts that Libyan rebels could push into the nation's capital and topple Moammar Gadhafi, even with the NATO air cover.

"I would assess that as a low likelihood," said Gen. Carter Ham, the head of U.S. Africa Command. He answered questions about the opposition forces in testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee.

Ham also said that there would have to be "a better understanding of exactly who the opposition force is" before arms could be supplied to the rebels.

Assurances are needed "that those U.S.-provided weapons would not fall into the hands of extremist organizations," he said.

NATO accused of not providing support

"My recommendation would be that we should know more about who they are before we make any determinations to arm them," Ham said.

He said he agrees that the Gadhafi regime has weakened after at one point closing in on victory.

"The important part is that, I think at this point, the regime has a significantly degraded ability to continue to attack civilians -- but if I may, with the notable exception of Misrata," a city in western Libya.

"The opposition forces have held an area in the northeastern portion of the city, in the port. And frankly, the port has been operating to get some relief," he said. "But the regime forces are and remain active in the city against civilians."

Part of complete coverage on
'Sons of Mubarak' in plea for respect
Pro-Mubarak supporters believe Egypt's former president is innocent of charges of corruption and killing protesters.
Timeline of the conflict in Libya
Fighting in Libya started with anti-government demonstrations in February and escalated into a nationwide civil war.
Who are these rebels?
After months of seeming stalemate, Libyan rebels declared they were moving in on Tripoli. But who are they?
Why NATO's Libya mission has shifted
Six months and more than 17,000 air sorties after it began, NATO's Operation Unified Protector in the skies over Libya grinds on.
Interactive map: Arab unrest
Click on countries in CNN's interactive map to see the roots of their unrest and where things stand today.
Send your videos, stories
Are you in the Middle East or North Africa? Send iReport your images. Don't do anything that could put you at risk.
Libya through Gadhafi's keyhole
Behind the official smiles for the cameras some people in Libya's capital are waiting for the rebels, reports CNN's Ivan Watson.
How Arab youth found its voice
Tunisia's Mohamed Bouazizi not only ignited a series of revolts but heralded the first appearance of Arab youth on the stage of modern history.