- Associated Press - Wednesday, June 22, 2011

TRIPOLI, Libya (AP) — NATO warplanes resumed daytime strikes on targets in the Libyan capital Wednesday as alliance member Italy called for the “immediate suspension” of hostilities in the North African nation.

At least two explosions shook Tripoli before noon as fighter jets soared overhead. It wasn’t immediately clear what had been hit or if there were casualties.

In Rome, Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini called for a halt in fighting so aid corridors could be set up. Mr. Frattini said “the humanitarian end of military operations is essential to allow for immediate aid,” including in areas around Tripoli and the rebel stronghold of Misrata.

Mr. Frattini also expressed concern over civilian casualties, referring to “dramatic errors” in the bombing campaign.

“With regard to NATO, it is opportune to ask for more detailed information on results” in the attacks, he said in comments to a parliamentary commission that were carried by Italian news agencies.

Italy is Libya’s former colonial ruler and continues to maintain strong commercial ties to the country.

NATO’s daily airstrikes are coming under increased criticism by Col. Moammar Gadhafi’s government, which accuses the alliance of targeting civilians.

NATO acknowledged it may have struck a residential building and caused civilian casualties in Tripoli earlier this week. It also hammered a compound belonging to a close Gadhafi associate and killed what Libya says was 15 civilians, including at least three children. NATO said that target was a “command and control” center.

A coalition including France, Britain and the United States began striking Col. Gadhafi’s forces March 19 under a U.N. resolution to protect civilians. NATO assumed control of the air campaign over Libya on March 31. It’s joined by a number of Arab allies.

Rebels fighting Col. Gadhafi’s forces have taken over much of the eastern half of the country. They also control pockets in the west, including the vital port city of Misrata, about 125 miles from Tripoli.

Rebel forces facing barrages of rockets and mortars launched by government troops are trying to push their front line forward from Misrata toward the capital. But an increased number of rockets have been hitting closer to Misrata this week, raising fears among rebels of a renewed push by Col. Gadhafi’s forces toward the city.

On Wednesday, China told Libyan rebel leader Mahmoud Jibril that his Transitional National Council represents a growing segment of the Libyan public and is becoming a major political force in the country.

The comments by Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi were the country’s strongest endorsement yet of the rebel council. Beijing, an important trading partner with Libya, says it isn’t taking sides in the more than 4-month-old conflict.

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