Libyan voices on coalition air strikes

Image caption Rebels have welcomed the UN-backed no-fly zone

Air strikes against Libyan targets by an international coalition have divided opinion in the country.

BBC Arabic heard differing views from two Libyan women from the cities of Tripoli and Zuwara.

Their names have been changed to protect their identity.

Saeeda, business administration graduate, Zuwara

The air strikes are necessary in order to save the lives of innocent Libyans. I am really surprised by the pictures showing on state TV, purportedly, of victims of the air strikes. If they are so worried about people, why did they not show the bodies of those who died as a result of actions by the forces loyal to Gaddafi?

Zuwara city, where I am, was captured by Gaddafi's forces last Monday and it seems for the moment that air strikes are limited to Benghazi and Tripoli. But we have heard news that a military camp north of Zuwara was attacked by Nato forces. There were no reported casualties as apparently the camp had been evacuated.

I am against the entry of any foreign ground forces into Libya and any other forms of occupation. But I support limited air strikes to protect innocent lives. We hoped for the intervention by our Arab neighbours and other regional bodies, but no-one came to our aid throughout the 34 days Gaddafi was bombing his own people.

The involvement of the international community was a last resort. We here in Zuwara suffered from heavy shelling from forces loyal to Gaddafi when they were trying to recapture the city.

There is currently a high state of alert in the city. Roads are deserted and shops are closed as most people are staying indoors. People fear becoming hostages to Gaddafi's forces who may use them as human shields. It is almost certain as well that one of Gaddafi's sons - Saad - is in the city to monitor the situation.

Most people in the region and other western areas such as Nalut are Berber people who have long been opposed to the regime. Now Gaddafi's forces are forcing them to go on the roads and raise green flags and pictures of Gaddafi for the TV cameras.

We hope the air strikes eliminate Gaddafi's military power and I do not think this will result in the country effectively becoming two.

I am very confident that Libyans are able to unite because the majority are against Gaddafi's regime. Those who come out in favour of the regime on state TV are simply forced to do so.

It is very difficult to predict how events will play out but it is important the regime falls at the earliest opportunity, and it is more important that innocent lives are saved even if it means relying on outside powers.

Hibba, secretary, Fahloom, Tripoli

As a Libyan citizen I do not want any kind of external interference especially aerial bombardment.

I consider myself a neutral. I do not see myself as a supporter of Gaddafi or in opposition to him. The problem is that international forces cannot differentiate between military and civilian areas.

We heard news about indiscriminate bombing and civilian casualties on the radio, and it seems that this is what is actually happening.

I was contacted by relatives who live in the suburb of Tajoura, east of the capital, and they confirmed to me that an eight-month-old baby was killed as a result of the air strikes.

What is happening now is far from the concept of a no-fly zone and is much closer to the beginning of an all-out war and invasion.

This is something Libyans will not tolerate at all. Libyan youth have already started heading to arms depots to arm themselves. They consider the international campaign is actually against Libya and part of a wider Western conspiracy that began in Tunis and Egypt and is now being hatched for Libya to take over the oil.

I am very disappointed in the role that the Arab League and its secretary Amr Moussa have played so far.

Moussa has remained largely neutral from the start rather than trying to reconcile Gaddafi with the opposition. Gaddafi has expressed his readiness for dialogue and mentioned more than once that he is not a president but only the leader of the revolution.

The Gulf states and especially Qatar have always been hostile to Gaddafi but I am surprised that [Italian Prime Minister] Berlusconi, who is a close friend of Gaddafi, has offered Italian bases for the coalition to bombard Libya.

Personally, I frequent the Green Square and Bab Azizia with the rest of the volunteers to show our opposition to foreign intervention.

I request the [rebel] transitional council in Benghazi to think again about the use of foreign forces because the last thing I expected in my life - and after 42 years of peace in Libya - was that foreign fighter jets would be roaming our skies.

This is the biggest mistake the opposition has so far committed.

I hope they open a door to dialogue with the government as a way out of this crisis for the sake of security and safety everyone is working towards. My biggest fear is that the country will be divided into two halves. This will have a great impact on many Libyans who have relatives across the country.