libyan rebels 311.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Britain pressured other NATO members to increase ground attacks in Libya on
Wednesday, but cracks appeared in the alliance, as foreign ministers met in
Qatar to try to break the deadlock in the civil war.
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surfaced at the international “contact group” meeting – not only over arming the
rebels and increasing air strikes, but also on creating a fund from frozen
Libyan assets – to help the opposition attempting to overthrow Muammar
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon underlined the
humanitarian disaster caused by the war, telling the meeting that up to 3.6
million people – or more than half the population – could need
Paris and London are increasingly frustrated that air strikes
have neither tipped the balance of the war in favor of rebels trying to end
Muammar Gaddafi’s 41-year rule, nor ended devastating shelling of the besieged
city of Misrata.
French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe criticized NATO on
Tuesday for not doing enough to stop the bombardment of the rebel-held port
town, where hundreds of civilians are said to have died in more than six weeks
Libyan state television said on Wednesday that NATO planes
bombed Misrata’s main Tripoli Street – scene of repeated battles between rebels
and government troops. It said people were killed, without giving
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British Foreign Minister William Hague told Reuters that other
coalition aircraft must join ground attacks.
“There are many other
nations around Europe, and indeed Arab nations, who are part of this coalition.
There is scope for some of them to move some of their aircraft from air defense
into groundstrike capability,” he said.
NATO said it destroyed 16 tanks,
an anti-aircraft gun and a pickup truck in operations on Tuesday.
attending the Doha meeting said they expected more support, saying NATO was
using “minimum” power and needed to step up attacks on Gaddafi’s heavy
Britain and France, western Europe’s two main military powers,
are delivering most of the air strikes on Gaddafi’s armor since President Barack
Obama ordered US forces to take a back seat.
Other NATO countries are
either keeping their distance from the campaign or enforcing a no-fly zone – but
A wide gap has appeared between NATO hawks and
Belgian Foreign Minister Steven Vanackere said the March 17 UN
resolution authorizing NATO action in Libya – to protect civilians from
Gaddafi’s government forces – ruled out arming civilians, and he saw no need to
boost forces there.
In another disagreement, German Foreign Minister
Guido Westerwelle voiced reservations about an Italian call to create a fund
from frozen assets to aid the rebels.
Meanwhile, Britain’s Hague called
for a temporary financial mechanism to fund rebel governments in the eastern
territory they control. The rebels said they needed $1.5 in aid for civilians.
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