Libya flag 311 (R).
(photo credit: REUTERS/Thaier al-Sudani)
BRUSSELS - NATO's military operations in Libya are very close to completion and the alliance's partners have taken a preliminary decision to end the campaign on Oct. 31, NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said on Friday.
"We agreed that our operations are very close to completion and we have taken a preliminary decision to end Operation Unified Protector on Oct. 31," Rasmussen told a news conference after a meeting of NATO ambassadors in Brussels.
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"(Until Oct. 31) NATO will monitor the situation and retain the capacity to respond to threats to civilians, if needed," he added.
He said the alliance would take a formal decision early next week on ending the operation: "In the meantime, I will consult closely with the United Nations and the National Transitional Council."
"I'm very proud of what we have achieved, together with our partners, including many from the region," Rasmussen said.
Like other Western officials, Rasmussen expressed no regrets in public about the gruesome death of the deposed Libyan dictator, who was captured alive by the forces of the National Transitional Council but was brought dead to a hospital.
"We mounted a complex operation with unprecedented speed and conducted it with the greatest of care," he said.
The NATO operation, officially intended to protect civilians,
effectively ended on Thursday with French warplanes blasting Gaddafi's
convoy as he and others tried to escape a final stand in Sirte.
Former Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, on the run for more than two
months, was tracked down and killed in his hometown of Sirte on
Asked about the fate of Gaddafi's son Saif al-Islam, he said NATO had no knowledge of his whereabouts.