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 Nato control on Libya 'days away'

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LeeRain
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PostSubject: Nato control on Libya 'days away'   Fri Mar 25, 2011 10:20 pm

Nato control on Libya 'days away'

Libyan rebel takes cover as they try to retake the town of Ajdabiya British jets attacked targets in Ajdabiya, where Libyan rebels are trying to retake the town

Nato will be able to take over command of the entire military operation in Libya within days, according to UK Foreign Secretary William Hague.

He says he has "every expectation" the alliance will assume full command, instead of enforcing only the no-fly zone and the arms embargo.

Coalition forces are into a seventh day of military action over Libya to enforce the UN resolution.

Mr Hague insisted there was no split in the international community.

"If the Gaddafi regime think the international will and unity on this is faltering in any way, they are in for quite a surprise," he said.

Mr Hague said a conference in London on Tuesday, which will include Arab nations alongside the EU and the US, would lock in commitments of military and financial support which he said were "increasing all the time".

Prime Minister David Cameron also told a news conference at the EU summit in Brussels that Nato would shortly be providing command and control for the operation.

Dismissing talk of a split within Nato, he explained: "These things always take a bit of time."
'Safe and secure'

The BBC's correspondent in Brussels, Matthew Price, said there were growing signs that Mr Cameron's prediction was correct.
David Cameron at the EU summit in Brussels David Cameron says Nato will shortly take over the entire operation over Libya

"I am getting the impression that is not just wishful thinking, because other diplomatic sources here are saying very much the same thing."

He added: "Interestingly, President Sarkozy of France is still talking about this overseeing political council, that would include representatives from Qatar and the UAE as well, to keep the Arab states onside."

Twelve countries, including UAE and Qatar, are now part of the coalition seeking to enforce the UN Security Council resolution passed last week to protect civilians from attack during fighting between rebels and Col Muammar Gaddafi's forces.

Mr Cameron said the EU summit had agreed that "military action should continue until people are safe and secure".

British Tornado jets attacked Col Gaddafi's forces in Ajdabiya on Thursday.

The Ministry of Defence said the Tornados, which were on an armed reconnaissance mission, fired guided Brimstone missiles at armoured vehicles which were threatening the civilian population of Ajdabiya.

"Brimstone is a high-precision, low-collateral damage weapon, optimised against demanding and mobile targets," said the MoD.
Arab role

William Hague said the coalition was doing everything possible to avoid civilian deaths.

"There are no confirmed civilian casualties so far from coalition air strikes and missile strikes in all these operations since last Saturday", he said. "All the civilian casualties are being caused by the Gaddafi regime."

Downing Street said the UAE's decision to contribute 12 planes was "evidence of the real and tangible Arab role" in enforcing the no-fly zone.

Fresh fighting has meanwhile been reported in Misrata, scene of a bitter battle for control.

The foreign secretary said it was difficult to use coalition airpower in the city because Col Gaddafi's tanks were within the town itself.

He said regime forces must withdraw from rebel-held areas in Libya.

One report said rebels were moving closer to the city of Ajdabiya but remained outgunned by pro-Gaddafi forces.
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