F-16 Fighter Jet 311 (R).
(photo credit: REUTERS)
TRIPOLI - Forces loyal to Muammar Gaddafi attacked two Libyan towns on Tuesday after a third night of air raids on Tripoli, but the Western campaign faced questions over the future of its command structure.
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With anti-Gaddafi rebels struggling to create a command structure than can capitalize on the air strikes against Libyan tanks and air defenses, western nations have still to decide who will run the operation once Washington pulls back.
The United States will cede control of the air assault in days, President Barack Obama said, even as divisions in Europe fueled speculation that Washington would be forced to continue leadership of air patrols to replace the initial bombardment.
"We anticipate this transition to take place in a matter of days and not
in a matter of weeks," Obama, facing questions at home about the US
military getting bogged down in a third Muslim country, told a news
conference on a visit to Chile.
A US Air Force F-15E crashed in Libya overnight and one crewman had been
recovered and the other was "in the process of recovery," the US
military said. The crash was likely caused by mechanical failure and not
hostile fire, it said.
In the latest fighting on Tuesday, Gaddafi forces used tanks to shell
the rebel-held western city of Misrata and casualties included four
children killed when the car they were traveling in was hit, residents
told Reuters. The death toll on Monday had reached 40, they said.
"The situation here is very bad. Tanks started shelling the town this
morning," a resident, called Mohammed, told Reuters by telephone from
outside the city's hospital, adding:
"Snipers are taking part in the operation too. A civilian car was
destroyed killing four children on board, the oldest is aged 13 years."
Al Jazeera news network said Gaddafi forces were trying to seize the
western rebel-held town of Zintan near the Tunisian border in an attack
using heavy weapons. Residents had already fled the town center to seek
shelter in mountain caves.