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Gadhafi threatens to take war to Europe

By the CNN Wire Staff
Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi says NATO should "withdraw and run away."
Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi says NATO should "withdraw and run away."
  • NEW: U.S. is taking the threats seriously, State Department spokesman says
  • Gadhafi says the battle may one day be taken to Europe
  • His recorded message was aired at a Tripoli rally
  • State Department spokesman says Gadhafi is "given to overblown rhetoric"

Tripoli, Libya (CNN) -- Moammar Gadhafi, rallying his supporters in war-torn Libya, threatened Friday to take the fighting to Europe, according to an audio message aired by state TV.

"You are mistaken, you are involved in a battle that you don't know what you are going to face, so withdraw, and run away," Gadhafi told a pro-government gathering in Tripoli. "Our people is able in one day to move the battle to the Mediterranean, and able to move the battle to Europe."

Gadhafi referred to NATO, which began bombing military targets in Libya after the U.N. Security Council approved a resolution in March authorizing force by whatever means necessary, with the exception of a ground invasion, to protect civilians.

Libya rebels claim talks with France over weapons supply

He vowed vengeance for the bombings, saying the Libyan military could be "like locusts, like bees" in Europe. Homes and offices could be potential targets, he said.

Scrambling for cash in Misrata
  • Libya
  • Moammar Gadhafi

In Washington, State Department spokesman Mark Toner said the United States was taking seriously the Libyan leader's remarks. "Certainly this is an individual who's obviously capable of carrying out these kinds of threats," he told reporters. "It's what makes him so dangerous. But he's also someone who's given to overblown rhetoric."

He said the United States would continue to support NATO's mission of increasing pressure on Gadhafi to step aside.

Gadhafi's daughter: 'My father is a symbol, a guide'

The French government, meanwhile, is in talks with Libyan rebels about supplying them with weapons and ammunition, a Libyan opposition military spokesman in Misrata said late Thursday.

The French government has not confirmed the claim, which follows an acknowledgment earlier this week that its military has previously dropped light weaponry to rebels elsewhere.

CNN's David McKenzie contributed to this story

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