NATO tackles threat of attacks in western Libya

  • 01 Jul. 2011 -
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  • Last updated: 02 Jul. 2011 11:27

In recent days, NATO-led Operation Unified Protector has stepped up its military pressure on pro-Qadhafi forces in western Libya, disrupting attempts to increase their attacks on civilians.

"We are engaging all military assets that are being used to indiscriminately target the civilian population throughout Libya,” said Lieutenant-General Charles Bouchard, Commander of Operation Unified Protector.

Since 27 June 2011, NATO’s round-the-clock operations have resulted in the destruction of more than 50 military targets in the region, which stretches from the Nafusa mountains, by the Libyan-Tunisian border, to the city of Misurata.

"NATO continues to increase the pressure on the Qadhafi regime and to protect civilians, wherever they are under threat of attack”, General Bouchard stressed.

Strikes are carried out based on extensive and permanent intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance operations over the area and in response to pro-Qadhafi forces massing in key urban areas and on major lines of communication. This buildup poses a real threat to more than 1.8 million civilians living in the cities of Nalut, Tripoli, Gharyan, Al Khums and Misurata.

In Gharyan, about 80 km south of the Libyan capital, NATO’s air operations focus on protecting the local population which has been threatened by pro-Qadhafi forces. In the past four days, NATO air assets hit eight military targets in and around the area, including a military complex used to resupply pro-Qadhafi forces, as well as tanks and other military vehicles.

In a separate operation, NATO aircraft struck a pro-Qadhafi military complex consisting of a network of tunnels hidden away in mountainous terrain near Wadi Turghut, some 50 km South-east of Tripoli. The facility, which is located near the main coastline route to Misratah, had been used to store significant amounts of military equipment used by Qadhafi regime forces in their indiscriminate assault on the city of Misratah, its harbor and airport. The destruction of this facility was critical to protect civilians in the area from further attack.

The missions were wide-ranging and well-coordinated, utilizing NATO Allies and partners’ wide array of airborne warning and control facilities (AWACs) and air-to-air re-fueling aircraft. The strikes were conducted in a clinical and accurate manner, using precision guided munitions, and focusing solely on weaponry and support facilities, while leaving living accommodation untouched. NATO continues to monitor the situation closely and will take any further action necessary to ensure the protection of the local people.

NATO's Operation UNIFIED PROTECTOR is being conducted under United Nations Security Council Resolution 1973, which calls for an immediate end to all attacks against civilians and authorizes all necessary measures to protect civilians and civilian populated areas under threat of attack in Libya.