Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi has launched a large-scale conscription campaign to enroll women and children for service in his army, the pan-Arab Asharq Alawsat paper reported on Tuesday.
"We are expecting a NATO ground invasion in Libya and we are currently preparing for any possible situation. In line with these preparations we've started conscripting women and children," a senior Libyan official, who wanted to remain unnamed, told the paper.
Several Western news outlets have reported that Gaddafi's soldiers were using women and children as human shields to protect themselves from attacks in the besieged city of Misrata.
NATO air strikes have not forced Colonel Gaddafi to withdraw from power; this fact is inciting the alliance's chiefs into starting a ground operation, the senior Libyan officials told Asharg Alawsat.
"We have reliable data that NATO is currently plotting a ground invasion," he added.
According to military experts, about 80,000 Libyan fighters remain loyal to Gaddafi.
Libyan state TV has recently shown features on women going through military training in special camps. Despite assurances that "all of these women have voluntary decided to defend their Motherland," Asharg Alawsat sources said many women are being forced to join.
Those who refuse to go to military camps and join the army are being persecuted and arrested, the paper said, referring to its sources.
MOSCOW, May 10 (RIA Novosti)