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April 5th, 2011
06:00 PM ET

NATO: Use of human shields complicating airstrikes in Libya

CNN Wire Staff

Tripoli, Libya (CNN) - Efforts to prevent forces loyal to Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi from attacking civilians have been complicated by weather and the regime's decision to hide military equipment in populated areas and to use human shields, NATO Brig. Gen. Marc van Uhm said Tuesday.

Rebel leaders have criticized NATO's efforts in recent days, saying civilians and rebel forces in Misrata and elsewhere have suffered under hellish attacks from pro-Gadhafi forces with little evidence of NATO air power overhead.

"Before we put our faith in God and we were winning. Now we put our faith in NATO and we are losing," a rebel fighter near al-Brega said Tuesday.

Van Uhm, chief of allied operations at NATO, defended the organization's efforts, saying warplanes under NATO command flew 58 strike missions Monday, firing weapons and striking pro-Gadhafi targets on 14 of them.

He did not immediately have figures for previous days, but NATO spokeswoman Oana Lungescu said the warplanes had conducted 334 strike sorties since taking command of the mission on March 23.

"I think you can safely say the operational tempo continues unabated," she said.

In addition to using human shields and hiding equipment in populated areas, pro-Gadhafi forces have begun abandoning heavy military equipment in favor of the same kinds of cars and light trucks the rebels travel in, making it even more difficult for pilots to distinguish rebel convoys from those carrying forces loyal to the regime, van Uhm said.

Since the effort to enforce the U.N. resolution began in mid-March, airstrikes have taken out about 30% of Gadhafi's military capacity, van Uhm said.

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soundoff (4 Responses)
  1. KazuhideKuwahara

    First of all,airstrike that was implemented by coalition forces was not only a help for protesters but only injured the civilian.More ground deployment has to be a crux of the matter to protect Lybians from the attaking by the Lybian regime.

    April 6, 2011 at 12:15 am |
  2. Ron

    I think this is a bunch of crap! The US has A10's that are the most effective tank killers in the world. Removing them was a tactical error by NATO command.

    First use the A10's to take out all artillery pieces no matter where they are located. At this time taking those pieces out will result in less death that what the pro-Qaddafi are doing right now.

    Planes that can fly at ground level are the only thing that can destroy both troops and armored targets. We have every thing needed to shorten this slaughter and Obama has to listen to military authorities.

    True, when the anti forces go into Tripoli and do what ever it is that they can do, the outcome may be worse, However, our president has says that "Qaddafi must go" and the US offensive weapons are the best (and probably the only forces) that can end this mess.

    Once Qaddafi is dead and his children are also dead then the USA mission is done. Pull everything out and let the Libyans fight it out for power.

    April 6, 2011 at 12:15 am |
  3. salomon Abrego

    I always go t CNN for all kind of news. Reports seem more truthful. Thanks to all the staff.

    April 5, 2011 at 11:44 pm |
  4. Naji Shoaib

    Yes, NATO is failing to protect civilians from Qadhafi's mercenaries. I do not know where NATO bombed they might bombed on the desert, but nothing has been seen on the land. Qadhafi's mercenaries still attacking civilians every where in the West and East and NATO air force are just watching them. I think some thing must be done to stop the massacre in Libya. Libyans want actions rather than words. NATO should act faster to protect people from slaughtering by dictator's mercenaries.

    April 5, 2011 at 9:03 pm |