At a press conference in Naples today, NATO’s Rear Admiral Russ Harding stated that the multinational force would not apologize for the accidental bombing of Libyan rebel fighters on Thursday. Harding states that the situation in the area where the bombings took place as “very fluid” with vehicles and munitions “going back and forth”. The rebels were operating tanks, which, until yesterday, NATO commanders had believed to only be in the hands of troops loyal to Muammar al Gaddafi.
Harding broke with US General Carter Ham’s assessment that the situation on the ground in Libya had reached a stalemate. “If someone wants to define that as a stalemate that’s fine, all I’m saying is that yes, it’s fluid, but it’s fluid in a relatively small area.”
“Fluid” was a word that Harding used repeatedly throughout the news conference to describe the current state of the conflict.
The rebels hit in Thursday’s air strike had been moving a group of tanks, armoured vehicles and rocket launchers near the front line between the towns of Ajdabiya and Brega in more than 30 transporters. One rebel commander told the BBC he saw at least four missiles land among rebel fighters. Rebels said four rebels died, while local doctors told the BBC at least 13 fighters had been killed in the strike. Many more were injured.
The accidental attacks have generated anger among rebel forces on the ground, but leaders of the anti-Gaddafi movement have stressed that the incidents will not interfere with their cooperation with the NATO coalition. Meanwhile pro-Gaddafi troops have been advancing on the city of Misrata and UNICEF is reporting that government snipers have been targeting children in the city. The United Nations World Food Program has sent a ship with relief supplies which are currently being to distributed in an effort to head off the looming humanitarian crisis brought about by the war.
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