June 9th, 2011
11:54 PM ET

NATO official: Gadhafi a legitimate target

(CNN) - (CNN) - A U.N. resolution justifies the targeting of Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi, a senior NATO military official with operational knowledge of the Libya mission told CNN Thursday.

The resolution applies to Gadhafi because, as head of the military, he is part of the control and command structure and therefore a legitimate target, said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity. The official was not authorized to talk to the media.

Asked by CNN whether Gadhafi was being targeted, the NATO official declined to give a direct answer.

But NATO spokeswoman Oana Lungescu disputed the claim, saying the alliance was not specifically targeting Gadhafi.

"We are targeting critical military capabilities that could be used to attack civilians, including command and control centers that could be used to plan and organize such attacks," Lungescu said.

"We are simply not targeting individuals," she said, but noted on CNN's American Morning that those military capabilities are the "nerve center of Gadhafi's kill chain. The war machine that has been consistently attacking, relentlessly attacking and systematically attacking civilians in Libya."

"We've seen just the other day in Misrata that sort of indiscriminate shelling is still continuing. So the Gadhafi regime still poses a threat to its own people."

NATO has been ramping up pressure on the regime, employing helicopters last weekend for the first time against Gadhafi's forces. Explosions are heard often in Tripoli, evidence of allied air strikes.

NATO intervened in March in the months-long civil war under a U.N. mandate to protect civilians as Gadhafi tried to crush the revolt against him.

The resolution adopted by the U.N. Security Council authorized "all necessary measures," with the exception of a ground invasion, to protect civilians.

NATO's goal is to end attacks against civilians, the withdrawal of Gadhafi forces to barracks and bases, and full humanitarian access, Lungescu said.

"There is, of course, a political track and that is what has been going on with the Contact Group in Abu Dhabi," she said, referring to the Thursday meeting of world powers focused on the Libyan crisis.

The group bolstered financial and moral support for the Libyan opposition there and focused on sustaining pressure on Gadhafi.

Updated: 6/10/11, 5:19 pm


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soundoff (2 Responses)
  1. IKHAN

    Sure he is.
    Lets do this. Make targeted killing the norm.
    begin by taking out all known and suspected drug lords, dealers & pushers. All known or suspected murderers, serial killers, mass murderers, child rapists. In fact all those who commit violent crimes, at home. god how much tax payers money we would save on lengthy trials, lawyers, prisons and such.
    Get all the developed countries on board for follwing suit.
    Then go after every leader who does not toe our line, is bad to his people or who we do not like. Why not then eliminate
    all people who do not look or think like us and pollute this planet.
    Wouldn't this be a wonderful world then.
    All those in favor say Aye.

    June 10, 2011 at 1:10 pm |
  2. Robert

    Once the decision was made that European and American forces were to intervene, there is really no other choice. You don't leave a wounded and dangerous Gaddafi in power. The hope now has to be that this ends as quickly as possible.

    June 10, 2011 at 12:21 am |