London, March 23 (DPA) The air force of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi has been destroyed and “no longer exists as a fighting force”, a top British military commander said Wednesday.
Air Vice-Marshal Greg Bagwell, commander of the British aircraft operating over Libya, made his remarks during a visit to air crews based at Gioia del Colle in southern Italy Wednesday, the BBC reported.
The coalition could now operate “with near impunity” over the skies of Libya, said Bagwell, as it applied “unrelenting pressure” on the Libyan armed forces.
“We are watching over the innocent people of Libya and ensuring that we protect them from attack,” he said.
“We have the Libyan ground forces under constant observation and we attack them whenever they threaten civilians or attack population centres.”
Bagwell said none of Britain’s Tornado and Typhoon fighters involved in the operation over Libya had come under attack. Since Sunday, they had not fired any of their weapons.
Western aircraft have flown more than 300 sorties over Libya since the campaign began Saturday and more than 162 Tomahawk cruise missiles have been fired.