Panetta: NATO'S Libya mission likely to last a while longer

October 4, 2011 21:16


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Aboard a US military aircraft, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said on Tuesday he expected NATO operations over Libya to continue while fighting persisted, but that the alliance would be discussing the issue this week.

Forces loyal to Libya's interim government have control of most of the country but fighting continues in pockets still held by supporters of ousted leader Muammar Gaddafi, including the city of Sirte.

Asked whether NATO could end offensive operations even though fighting continues in some areas and Gaddafi has not been found, Panetta told reporters in Cairo that he wanted to consult with fellow NATO defense ministers.

But he added: "As long as there's fighting that's continuing in Libya, I suspect that the NATO mission would continue."

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