NATO agreed last night to terminate on 31 October its military mission in Libya against the forces of the regime of the late Colonel Muammar Gaddafi and that until then military operations will be relieved. The secretary general of NATO, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, said that the allied military action in Libya during these seven months has led to “avoid a slaughter” of civilians and the Libyan air strikes “have saved countless lives.” Rasmussen also stressed that NATO had never intended to kill Gaddafi to attack military convoy Wednesday in Sirte that precipitated his death, for the Atlantic Alliance “never takes targeting personalities or individuals.”
Although the supreme commander of NATO in Europe, U.S. General James Stavridis, had announced he would propose to the 28 countries allied to the mission, discussions within the Atlantic Council required nine hours of intense discussions to get consensus “provisional” to terminate the operation at the end of the month due to the divergent views between the ambassadors.
DIVERGENCES ALLIED / Some countries argued that it would terminate the operation immediately after the death of Qadhafi and the fall of Sirte and Bani Walid, the last bastions of gadafistas forces. But other ambassadors advocated a more cautious approach and proposed to keep the operation in place for some time to verify that the situation in Libya was stabilized.
The final decision will be taken next week, after consulting with the UN and the National Transitional Council (CNT) Libyan, said Rasmussen, who played down those differences. In the discussion participated representatives Tasting, Jordan and the UAE, who had supported the military operation.
“Until October 31, Rasmussen said NATO will continue to monitor the situation and retain the ability to respond to any threat against the civilian population.” Rasmussen expressed his confidence that the new Libyan authorities “respect” the principles of democracy and rule of law and left to the National Transitional Council’s decision to open a “special investigation” into the circumstances of the death of Qaddafi.
Gaddafi’s convoy / NATO military command said Gaddafi was unaware that traveling in the convoy that the Allies attacked on Thursday morning when he fled from Sirte. NATO insisted that only later discovered that Gaddafi was traveling in that convoy and the attack was “probably contributed” to his capture by the rebels Libyans.
In a statement, NATO said that “around 8.30 am, 11 Allied aircraft attacked military vehicles gadafistas that were part of a convoy of about 75 vehicles on the outskirts of Sirte.” “These armored vehicles left Sirte at high speed and tried to force their way. Vehicles transporting a substantial amount of weapons and ammunition, which represented a serious threat to the local population, “said the statement. “At first only one vehicle was destroyed, causing a disruption of the convoy and that many vehicles are scattered in different changing directions,” explained NATO.
“A group of about 20 vehicles headed south at high speed and continued to represent a major threat,” the statement added. “The NATO attacked the vehicles with another series of air strikes,” which caused “a dozen vehicles were destroyed or damaged,” said the text.
NATO insisted that trigger at the time of the attack know that Gaddafi was in the convoy vehicles’ air attack “was intended only to reduce the threat to civilians, as required under UN mandate.”
NATO reiterated that only later discovered through public sources and allied intelligence services that Gaddafi was inside the convoy and would not reveal the nationality of the aircraft involved in that operation. However, the French defense minister, Gérard Longuet, acknowledged Thursday that a French Mirage-2000 had attacked the convoy of Sirte cited by order of the Allied command and Libyan rebel forces had intervened then destroying vehicles and trapping Gaddafi.