Monday, 20 June 2011

NATO regrets any “possible loss of life"

NATO has said that a suspected “weapons systems failure” during an air strike in Tripoli may have led to civilian casualties. The strike, carried out on Sunday 19th June, was intended to hit a missile site but "it appears that one weapon" did not strike the target.

NATO is working to enforce UN's resolution to protect Libyan civilians, but on Sunday evening commander of operation, Unified Protector, Lt Gen Charles Bouchard, said: "NATO 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."

A statement released by the alliance noted that more than 11,500 sorties had already been conducted and that "every mission is planned and executed with tremendous care to avoid civilian casualties".

In its own statement released earlier, the Libyan government said that NATO bombed a residential neighbourhood, killing nine people including two infants and injuring 18 others. The number of casualties and those injured has not been verified by an independent body.

Libya's Deputy Foreign Minister Khaled Kaim said NATO's attack on Sunday represented a "deliberate targeting of civilian houses". The alliance counteracted the statement saying, it "regretted any possible loss of life".

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.

The situation in the country seems to fluctuate from day to day, and while at one point it seemed as though the rebels were making considerable headway they are now struggling to keep-up the fight due to a lack of finances.

On Sunday, several senior officials from the rebel Transitional National Council (TNC) issued an urgent plea for foreign financial aid. It is estimated that they will need more than £1.9 billion to sustain the campaign against Colonel Mu'ammar Qadhafi's forces for the next six months.

Sources: BBC News, The Independent, The Guardian

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

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