NATO meets to wind down Libya campaign

NATO meets to wind down Libya campaign
# 21 October 2011 18:59 (UTC +04:00)
Baku-APA. NATO ambassadors Friday discussed winding down the alliance’s seven-month air campaign in Libya following the death of Moamer Kadhafi and the fall of his last bastions, APA reports quoting AFP.

"I will be recommending conclusion of this mission to the North Atlantic Council of NATO in a few hours," Admiral James Stavridis, commander of US European Command, said on Facebook.

"An extraordinary 24 hours in Libya," he added. "A good day for NATO. A great day for the people of Libya."

A diplomat said that "for NATO, the essential military development to take into account is the fall of Sirte and not Kadhafi’s death, which was never an aim of the mission."

The nations most involved in the war, including Britain and France, "do not want to rush but to halt the operation in orderly fashion".

NATO could in consequence decide to maintain part of its naval and air capacity over the next two weeks "to ensure capability for intervention should the situation require", a diplomatic source said.

The 28-member alliance by its own count has conducted 26,156 flights, including 9,634 strike sorties, since taking over the mission from Paris and London on March 31 under a UN mandate to protect civilians at threat from Moamer Kadhafi’s regime.

NATO earlier said it was unaware that Kadhafi was travelling in a convoy struck by alliance aircraft near Sirte the previous day.

"At the time of the strike, NATO did not know that Kadhafi was in the convoy," NATO said in a lengthy statement. "We later learned from open sources and Allied intelligence that Kadhafi was in the convoy."

NATO aircraft struck 11 pro-Kadhafi vehicles at around 1030 GMT on Thursday that were part of a larger group of approximately 75 vehicles manoeuvring in the vicinity of Sirte.

Only one vehicle was destroyed, but that disrupted the convoy "and resulted in many vehicles dispersing and changing direction".

NATO then engaged a group of approximately 20 vehicles, destroying or damaging around 10 of the vehicles.

"The strike likely contributed to his capture," said NATO, referring to Kadhafi.