|The court will investigate claims that peaceful protesters had been attacked by forces loyal to Gaddafi [Al Jazeera]
Muammar Gaddafi, the Libyan leader, and his key aides will be investigated for alleged crimes against humanity by the International Criminal Court, the chief prosecutor has said.
Speaking at a press conference in The Hague, the Netherlands, on Thursday, Luis Moreno-Ocampo said he would investigate claims that peaceful protesters had been attacked by forces loyal to Gaddafi.
"We have identified some individuals with de facto or formal authority, who have authority over the security forces," that have clamped down on a rebellion that started on February 15, he said.
"They are Muammar Gaddafi, his inner circle, including some of this sons," he said, and vowed there would be "no impunity in Libya".
The prosecutor also listed individuals including the Libyan leader's head of personal security, and the head of the external security forces. He said he expected to ask judges at the court for arrest warrants within " a few months".
He added that opposition forces would also be investigated.
Hoda Abdel-Hamid, Al Jazeera's correspondent in Benghazi, eastern Libya, said people were likely to welcome the news and had been "wondering when accountability would be coming".
She added the announcement that both sides would be held accountable was "a clear message for the opposition to try and control the number of weapons circulating in civilian areas".
Warning to Western nations
Alan Fisher, Al Jazeera's correspondent at The Hague, said Moreno-Ocampo was hoping to apply pressure to Libya over the violence.
"He said the reality is that you cannot take tanks and guns and fire them into crowds that are peacefully protesting. As far as he's concerned that's a crime against humanity and has to be investigated."
Moreno-Ocampo's statement comes as government forces in Libya launch fresh assaults in the town of Ajdabiya and the eastern oil port town of Brega.
Thousands of people are fleeing the violent crackdown in Libya, with vast crowds of locals and foreign workers being evacuated at the country's border with Tunisia.
Western leaders have said they are considering a range of responses to the crisis in the riot-torn nation, with Britain and France saying on Thursday they support the notion of a no-fly zone over Libya.
William Hague, the British foreign secretary, and Alain Juppe, his French counterpart, said they were working on "bold and ambitious" proposals to present to an EU meeting next week.
They said any action must have international support, legal backing and the participation of regional powers.
But Hillary Clinton, the US secretary of state, has warned that any military intervention would be "controversial", and others have voiced concern that it could further destabilise the region.
Gaddafi has also warned that "thousands" would die if the West took military action against his forces.
"If the Americans or the West want to enter Libya they must know it will be hell and a bloodbath - worse than Iraq," he said on state television on Wednesday.
Al Jazeera and agencies