Tuesday, 21 June 2011

NATO helicopter down in Libya

A NATO spokesman, Commander Mike Bracken, has said that an unnamed alliance helicopter has went-down while on a mission in Libya. Bracken declined to elaborate on whether the helicopter was struck on went down due a technical malfunction.

Libya's State television aireda special news report, saying: “Apache helicopter was downed in the area of Majr in Zliten.” It added that this was the fifth NATO aircraft to to go down since the start of NATO's mission. Bracken counteracted the statement, saying NATO has not lost a single airplane.

In related news, NATO has said that its strike on a government forces compound west of Tripoli was a "legitimate military target". Libya has claimed that the strike killed 15 people, including three infants. The claim cannot be independently verified.

The Sorman compound, which was under attack, belongs to Khweildy Al-Hamidy, a member of Colonel Mu'ammar Qadhafi's inner circle. Libyan officials have said that al-Hamidy was not hurt in the raid.

NATO issued a statement saying it “regrets the loss of innocent civilian lives and takes great care in conducting strikes against a regime determined to use violence against its own citizens…Although we are still determining the specifics of this event, indications are that a weapons system failure may have caused this incident."

NATO's mission to protect Libyan civilians and enforce the no-fly zone has just been extended for a further 90 days due to the on-going political deadlock within the country. The mission was initially set to end on 27th June, after a 90 day period.

Sources: CNN, BBC News, AFP

For more news and expert analysis about Libya, please see Libya Focus and Libya Politics & Security.

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