Nato has fired a barrage of missiles against Muammar Gaddafi’s command and control centres near Tripoli, including a brigade accused of leading attacks on civilians, officials said on Tuesday.
The military alliance conducted “deliberate, multiple strikes against command and control facilities of the Gaddafi regime” on Monday night, Nato said in a statement.
The targets included communications infrastructure used to coordinate attacks against civilians, and the headquarters of the 32nd Brigade located 10km south of Tripoli.
The brigade “has been used to lead and coordinate military actions against the Libyan civilian population,” Nato said.
“Nato will continue its campaign to degrade the Gaddafi regime forces that are involved in the ongoing attacks on civilians,” said Canadian Lieutenant General Charles Bouchard, commander of Nato operations in Libya.
“These were synchronised with precision strikes by coalition aircraft, including Tornadoes and Typhoons,” said Major General John Lorimer, strategic communication officer to the Chief of Defence Staff.
The alliance said it also struck three ammunition storage bunkers near Sirte, Gaddafi’s home town, as well as three tanks, one anti-aircraft weapon system and one armoured vehicle near Zintan.
One regime building was destroyed in the vicinity of the eastern oil town of Brega.
Libyan rebels put the death toll in two months of fighting Gaddafi’s forces at 10,000, while Britain has promised to send military advisers to help rebels organise themselves.
The UN said it has sent food for 50,000 people to western Libya as aid groups scrambled to reach trapped civilians.
British Foreign Secretary William Hague said London would send “experienced” military officers to rebel-held eastern Libya, though he was at pains to say they would not be involved in training or arming the rebels, or help in planning their military operations.
For his part, French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe said he was “entirely hostile” to the idea of sending ground troops into Libya, even special forces to guide air strikes.
With thousands clamouring to escape the besieged rebel city of Misrata, Britain said it would charter ships to pick up 5,000 migrant workers after a ferry rescued nearly 1,000 on Monday.
Hague said Britain is sending officers to help rebels improve their organisation, communications and logistics.
“Consistent with our obligations under that resolution, our officers will not be involved in training or arming the opposition’s fighting forces,” Hague said.
“Nor will they be involved in the planning or execution of the TNC’s military operations or in the provision of any other form of operational military advice.”
“In particular they will advise the TNC on how to improve their military organisational structures, communications and logistics, including how best to distribute humanitarian aid and deliver medical assistance.”
But rebel leader Mustafa Abdel Jalil said in Rome that Gaddafi would never go unless he was forced to.
Russia said western attempts to topple Gaddafi were a violation of a UN resolution on Libya, which only authorised the use of force to protect civilians.
Meanwhile, the UN’s World Food Programme said in Geneva it had opened up a lifeline from Tunisia.
“We’ve managed to open up a humanitarian corridor into western Libya,” WFP spokeswoman Emilia Casella said.
And the UN refugee agency said some 10,000 Libyans have fled in the past 10 days from the besieged Western Mountains region to Tunisia.
“UNHCR is seeing a growing number of Libyan refugees arriving in Tunisia from Libya’s Western Mountains regions,” Andrej Mahecic, spokesman for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, said in Geneva.
And the UN said Libya’s government has granted “safe passage” for United Nations teams in Misrata.
Deputy UN spokesman Farhan Haq said the safe passage was part of an accord on humanitarian access to the capital and other Libyan cities.
The UN Children’s Fund (Unicef) said at least 20 children have been killed in weeks of fighting in Misrata.
“Fifty days into the fighting in Misrata, the full picture of the toll on children is emerging — far worse than we had feared and certain to get worse unless there is a ceasefire,” Unicef spokeswoman Marixie Mercado said.
Morocco hosted a visit by a Libyan deputy foreign minister on Monday, a rare diplomatic link between Gaddafi’s government and one of the allies of the western coalition determined to overthrow him. Agencies