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NATO: No ground troops in post-conflict Libya
Question of the Day
NATO said it flew 66 “strike sorties” Tuesday and hit five command and control facilities in Tripoli, among other targets.
The intensified airstrikes raise the question of whether NATO is adhering only to its U.N. mandate to protect civilians from attack by Col. Gadhafi’s forces. Mr. Fogh Rasmussen insisted that was still the case.
Royal Air Force Wing Cmdr. Mike Bracken at NATO’s Libya operations headquarters in Naples told the Associated Press there has been “increased tempo over recent days over Tripoli” as the alliance seeks to further weaken Col. Gadhafi’s military.
But he stressed that Col. “Gadhafi as an individual has not been a target and won’t be a target.”
An alliance official insisted that striking at Libyan military and intelligence command and control centers such as those targeted in Tripoli has “a direct correlation” with protecting civilians because it means Col. Gadhafi’s forces no longer can receive orders from commanders.
The strikes “cut off and confuse” forces on the ground, the official said. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly about the mission.
Sweden’s government announced Wednesday that it will extend the mission of Swedish jets taking part in Libya reconnaissance missions by three months after its current mandate expires on June 22.
Under the plan, five of the eight Swedish jets currently taking part in the operation will continue to carry out reconnaissance missions over Libya.
A defiant Col. Gadhafi, meanwhile, vowed Tuesday to fight to the death.
“We will not surrender: We only have one choice — to the end! Death, victory, it does not matter. We are not surrendering!” Gadhafi said on state television.
U.S. Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates did not speak to reporters Wednesday at the last NATO gathering he will attend before retiring at the end of the month.
Mr. Gates arrived in Brussels after a farewell visit to American troops in Afghanistan. The 10-year war with Taliban insurgents is expected to dominate NATO discussions Thursday.
Associated Press reporter Don Melvin in Brussels contributed to this report.
By Andrew P. Napolitano
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