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Putin: West in ‘crusade’ over Gaddafi
1.       tunci
7149 posts
 22 Mar 2011 Tue 07:58 am

Putin: West in ‘crusade’ over Gaddafi

22 March 2011, Tuesday / REUTERS/AP, TRIPOLI

A burnt-out tank belonging to the Gaddafi army after it was hit by allied warplanes near Benghazi. The US, carrying out the air strikes in a coalition with Britain, France, Italy and Canada among others, said the campaign was working and dismissed a cease-fire announcement by the Libyan military on Sunday evening. Vladimir Putin (front picture)
Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said on Monday a UN resolution authorizing military action in Libyaresembled “medieval calls for crusades” after Western forces launched a second wave of air strikes.

As diplomatic tempers over the campaign flared, officials in Tripoli said a missile intended to kill Muammar Gaddafi had destroyed a building in his fortified compound, which was heavily bombed in 1986 by the Reagan administration. “It was a barbaric bombing,” said government spokesman Mussa Ibrahim, showing pieces of shrapnel that he said came from the missile.

“This contradicts American and Western [statements] ... that it is not their target to attack this place.” There was no comment on the strike from attacking forces.

In an appearance on Libyan television on Sunday, Gaddafi promised his enemies a “long war” after the UN-authorised intervention in the uprising against his 41-year rule of this oil producing north African desert state.

”The resolution is defective and flawed,” said Russia’s Putin, whose country did not use its power to veto the resolution at the United Nations. “It allows everything. It resembles medieval calls for crusades,” Putin added.

China’s official newspapers on Monday stepped up Beijing’s opposition to air attacks on Libya, accusing nations backing the strikes of breaking international rules and courting new turmoil in the Middle East. China also did not veto the UN resolution. Libyan rebels welcomed the second wave of attacks.

“The committee rejects foreign troops on the ground but we encourage the bombardment of Gaddafi’s army,” Ahmed El-Hasi, a spokesman for the Feb. 17 opposition coalition, said in the eastern rebel stronghold of Benghazi where the uprising began.

He said rebels coordinated with international powers on air strikes. “There is a connection between us. One, to pinpoint the position of Gaddafi’s troops, and two, to pinpoint the position of our fighters so they don’t get hit with bombardments.”

‘Eat US alive’

Accounts from the rebel-held western city of Mistrata appeared to show Gaddafi forces, in a change of tactics forced on them by air attacks, were trying to mingle with the civilian population, making it hard to target them from the air. Rebels said women and children were being used as “human shields.”

The first strikes on Saturday halted the advance of Gaddafi forces on Benghazi and targeted Libya’s air defenses in order to let Western warplanes patrol the skies of Libya.

The second wave of Western air strikes also hit Gaddafi’s troops around Ajdabiyah, a strategic town in the barren, scrub of east Libya that rebels aim to retake and where their fighters said they need more help to take the battle to the enemy.

”If we don’t get more help from the West, Gaddafi’s forces will eat us alive,” rebel fighter Nouh Musmari told Reuters.

The UN-mandated intervention to protect civilians caught up in a one-month-old revolt against Gaddafi also drew criticism from Arab League chief Amr Moussa, who questioned the need for a heavy bombardment, which he said had killed many civilians. Moussa said on Monday however that the League respected the UN resolution while stressing the need to protect civilians.

The United States, carrying out the air strikes in a coalition with Britain, France, Italy and Canada among others, said the campaign was working and dismissed a ceasefire announcement by the Libyan military on Sunday evening.

Henri Guaino, one of French President Nicolas Sarkozy’s closest aides, said strikes were not aimed at ousting Gaddafi but said they were likely to last “a little while.”

Underlining its commitment to avoiding civilian casualties, Britain’s Defense Ministry said one air force mission was called off because of civilians in the target area.

“As the RAF GR4 Tornados approached the target, further information came to light ... As a result the decision was taken not to launch weapons,” a ministry spokesman said.

The intervention in Libya is the biggest in an Arab country since the 2003 invasion of Iraq. Withdrawal of Arab support would make it harder to pursue what some analysts say could in any case be an open-ended campaign with an uncertain outcome.

Gaddafi compound

Italy said it had warplanes in the air, after US and British warships and submarines launched 110 Tomahawk missiles on Saturday night and Sunday morning. Late on Sunday night, Libyan officials took Western reporters to Gaddafi’s compound in Tripoli, a sprawling complex that houses his private quarters as well as military barracks, anti-aircraft batteries and other installations, to see what they said was the site of a missile attack two hours earlier.




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