'NATO helping Libyan rebels hunt down Gaddafi and sons'

By REUTERS
August 25, 2011 11:19

British Defense Minister Fox says NATO providing intel, reconnaissance assets to rebels and stepping up air raids against loyalists.

2 minute read.



Libyan rebels hunt Gaddafi

Libyan rebels hunt Gaddafi 311. (photo credit: REUTERS)

LONDON - NATO is supporting Libyan rebels hunting Muammar Gaddafi and his sons and has stepped up air raids targeting loyalists, Britain's Defense Minister Liam Fox said on Thursday.

"I can confirm that NATO is providing intelligence and reconnaissance assets to the NTC (National Transitional Council) to help them track down Colonel Gaddafi and other remnants of the regime," he told Sky News.

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He declined to comment on a report in Britain's Daily Telegraph newspaper that British special forces were on the ground in Libya assisting with the hunt.

Fox said NATO operations would continue until pockets of resistance containing Gaddafi loyalists were eliminated, and this could take some time.

"There was increased NATO activity last night including British fast jets because there are areas of resistance by the regime which has had considerable levels of military expertise, still has stockpiles of weapons and still has the ability for command and control.

"They may take some time to completely eliminate and it is likely there will be some frustrating days ahead before the Libyan people are completely free of the Gaddafi legacy."

He urged South Africa to drop its objections to unfreezing $1.5 billion of Libyan assets to support the NTC and for humanitarian assistance. South Africa has blocked the proposal at the United Nations for weeks because it objects to funding the rebel government.

"South Africa is, according to their government, worried about taking sides. It's very clear what side the Libyan people are on, and I think that is what the South African government should respond to," Fox told BBC radio.

"I think there will be huge moral pressure on South Africa. They wanted the world at one point to stand with them against apartheid. I think they now need to stand with the Libyan people."

The United States asked the UN Security Council on Wednesday to unfreeze the Libyan assets as soon as possible. No vote was held on the draft resolution, but diplomats said a vote could come on Thursday or Friday.

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