Qaddafi's son vows to re-take Libya from rebels

TRIPOLI, Libya - Libyan strongman Muammar Qaddafi's son vowed Thursday the government will soon re-take all of Libya, CBS News correspondent Mark Phillips reports.

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Qaddafi's forces had rebels on the run Thursday. They control most of western Libya, including Tripoli. Rebels have the upper hand in the east, but they were driven out of the key oil port city of Ras Lanuf. After several days of attacks from the air, Qaddafi's ground forces moved in.

The regime's military has also taken back the city of Zawiya, which was the rebellion's high-water mark because of its proximity to the capital city of Tripoli. The moves cut down on the progress rebels made in the western part of the country after capturing many cities in the east.

In an interview with Phillips, Saif al-Islam Qaddafi, one the Libyan leader's sons, at times called the pro-democracy rebels drunk gangsters, terrorists aligned with al Qaeda and criminals who execute children.

Mark Phillips: Do you think you've broken the back of this rebellion, Have you broken the back of this resistance?

Saif al-Islam Qaddafi: One hundred percent. In fact, we are fighting less than 1,000, 800 people. This is the whole strength and power of the militia.

Phillips: You say that there is no scope to talk any more?

Qaddafi: Enough. Enough is enough. Enough is enough. For me, personally I have no mercy toward them.

Phillips: You're just going to squash them?

Qaddafi: Of course, come on, of course.

Qaddafi said the regime will win, even if Western powers intervene in Libya.

"Now we are like tigers," he said.

Qaddafi said all the Libyans in the rebellion-controlled east aren't against the regime, sizing up the situation as 2.5 million people in the east against 800 people, who he described as "terrorists," "gangsters" and "militia."

He denied that his father's forces harmed civilians. He said there were "zero" civilian casualties in the battle for Zawiya.

"We have evidence that the terrorists are heavily armed," said Qaddafi. "We film them, you are filming them, and they are filming themselves. They hang people, they kill people, and two days ago they grilled the heart of a human being. So we have all the right to fight for our country. The west they want to believe us, support us, welcome. If not, we don't care about them. We will not let our country be a victim of hostage and terrorists."

(Watch video at left)

He dismissed the idea that the Qaddafi regime is no longer legitimate.

Asked if his father won an election, Qaddafi said, "You know what an election is? The hundreds of people marching in the streets."

He denied reports that a large number of the country's military have joined the rebellion, saying that only as many as 100 soldiers defected and that anyone else in uniform stole the clothes from military barracks.

"They are not soldiers," Qaddafi said.

He also said the regime has been receiving reports from Benghazi, one of the largest cities in the eastern, rebel-controlled part of the country.

Qaddafi said more than 300 murders have taken place in Benghazi in recent weeks and the city's schools, banks and university have been closed.

"Everyone has his own army, his own checkpoint; it's a mess," said Qaddafi. "Do you think the people are happy?"

  • Mark Phillips

    Mark Phillips is CBS News senior foreign correspondent, based in London.