Tripoli: NATO warned it will bomb civilian facilities if Muammar Gaddafi’s forces use them to launch attacks, as the UN said Libya’s warring parties remain at daggers drawn on ways to end the conflict.
The Western military alliance made it clear it would target facilities including factories, warehouses and agricultural sites being used by loyalist troops.
The warning came yesterday, a day after foreign reporters were taken to Zliten, east of Tripoli, by government minders and shown what they were told was the remains of a clinic hit by a NATO bomb that killed seven people.
Alliance military spokesman Colonel Roland Lavoie said in Brussels that in recent days NATO had hit a concrete factory near Brega where regime forces were hiding and firing multi-barrel rocket launchers.
“Pro-Gaddafi forces are increasingly occupying facilities which once held a civilian purpose,” Lavoie told reporters in a video conference from the operation’s headquarters in Naples, Italy.
“By occupying and using these facilities the regime has transformed them into military installations from which it commands and conducts attacks, causing them to lose their formerly protected status and rendering them valid and necessary military objectives for NATO,” Lavoie said.
Earlier, a NATO official said the alliance had “no evidence” that civilian facilities were hit in air raids near Zliten on Monday.
Baghdadi Mahmudi, the Libyan premier, reiterated yesterday that Gaddafi’s departure is “not up for discussion,” after meeting UN special envoy to Libya Abdul Ilah al-Khatib.
“The departure from power of Colonel Gaddafi is not up for discussion,” he told a news conference after British Foreign Secretary William Hague demanded on Monday that Gaddafi step down but said he might be allowed to stay in the country.
“With all due respect to the British foreign minister, it is not up to him to take decisions on behalf of the Libyan people.”
Khatib in a statement issued yesterday in New York said the two parties to the Libya crisis “remain deeply divided on how to reach a political solution.”
Khatib this week visited the rebel capital Benghazi in Libya’s east as well as the capital Tripoli. Zeenews