Press briefing on Libya
by NATO Spokesperson Oana Lungescu and Mike Bracken, Spokesperson for the Operation Unified Protector
Oana Lungescu (NATO Spokesperson): Good afternoon and welcome to everybody here in Brussels, and to those joining us from Naples. Before I hand over to Wing Commander Mike Bracken in Naples for our Libya operational update I'd just like to give you an overview of what has happened over the past few days.
Clearly the main issue for NATO over the weekend and yesterday are the allegations of civilian casualties. Mike will provide more operational information, but it is important that we put those allegations in context to the NATO mission.
Each and every civilian death is a tragedy. On Sunday, due to a technical failure, one of our weapons did not strike the intended military target, which was a missile site. We deeply regret this tragic accident. Speaking to the media yesterday, the Secretary General personally conveyed his condolences to the families of all those who may have been involved. I would like to do that again today.
Where NATO believes we have caused civilian casualties, we will say so. And we will do that as swiftly as we can establish the facts. The tragic accident in Tripoli is an exception. If you look at our track record after over 4,000 strike sorties, you can see we have taken utmost care to avoid civilian casualties, and we will continue to do so.
Our mission fully complies with United Nations Security Council Resolution 1973 – and our mandate is to use all necessary means to protect civilians and civilian-populated centres from attack and the threat of attack. We do not target specific individuals.
Let us not lose sight of the fact that it is the Qadhafi regime who started this crisis – not NATO or the international community. It is the Qadhafi regime who is deliberately and indiscriminately attacking civilians. It is the Qadhafi regime who has been deliberately and indiscriminately using tanks, guns and artillery against citis like Misrata and Zintan. It is the Qadhafi regime that has been deliberately and indiscriminately firing rockets from mosques and placing bunkers next to children’s playgrounds.
That is why we will keep up the pressure until our mission is accomplished. Because if we stop, it will put countless more lives at risk.
And with that I will hand over the floor to Naples and Wing Commander Mike Bracken. Mike.