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Ear to the Ground

NATO Apologizes to Libyan Rebels

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Posted on Apr 8, 2011
AP / NATO

Rear Adm. Russell Harding, deputy commander of the NATO air campaign in Libya, at a news conference in Naples.

Airstrikes Thursday in NATO’s campaign against Moammar Gadhafi’s forces killed at least four Libyan rebels in a “friendly fire” accident, the second in a week. After a bit of foot-dragging by the British deputy commander of the air campaign, NATO apologized to the rebels. —JCL

The New York Times:

NATO acknowledged on Friday that its warplanes had hit a rebel convoy the day before, killing at least four people, and after some confusion eventually apologized for the accident.

At a news conference in Naples, where NATO has its operational headquarters, Rear Adm. Russell Harding, the British deputy commander of the air campaign, said the alliance had not been forewarned — as the rebels’ commander, Gen. Abdul Fattah Younes, contended on Thursday — that the rebels were using tanks at the time the attack took place.

The military movements in the area where the attack took place were also “very fluid” at the time, [Harding] said, according to news reports, with vehicles going backward and forward.

“I am not apologizing,” he said of the incident, the second case of friendly-fire deaths in a week. “The situation on the ground was extremely fluid and remains extremely fluid, and until yesterday we did not have information” that the rebels planned to deploy tanks.

But later the secretary general of NATO, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, expressed his remorse over the mix-up. “This is a very unfortunate incident,” he said at NATO headquarters in Brussels. “And I strongly regret the loss of life.”

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By Maani, April 9, 2011 at 11:02 pm Link to this comment

This just goes to show that if you are rebels and you are going to comandeer the other side’s tanks, you need to let those doing airstrikes on the other side KNOW that YOU are now in the tanks…LOL.

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By christian, April 9, 2011 at 5:39 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I do not and did not think that we should have supported the establishment of a ‘no-fly’ zone in Libya.  My reasons are that firstly, I think our actions, without Congressional approval, are unconstitutional, secondly I do not believed we should be involved in the internal affairs of Libya, and thirdly I do not believe that airpower alone can accomplish what air-power advocates always claim, and that is ‘win wars.’ Having said that, I find it ludicrous that the Libyan Rebels demanded an apology for the attack on their tanks by NATO planes. This is exactly what happens in war, people get killed.  The support they have gotten so far from the US and NATO more than makes up for this accident, and there will always be friendly fire accidents, no matter how much those who have not fought in a war will want it differently.

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PatrickHenry's avatar

By PatrickHenry, April 9, 2011 at 4:11 pm Link to this comment

We’ve gone from a no fly zone to bombing those we are suppose to be hepling on the ground. 

In one night without congressional approval we fired 168 million worth of ordinance on Libya, however the yearly 330 million for planned parenthood is treated like its going to break this country.

This country is being run by nut cases.

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By Truly Anomalous, April 8, 2011 at 7:29 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I see that it’s not only the Lybian rebels that are inept…

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By gerard, April 8, 2011 at 5:12 pm Link to this comment

”—Admiral Harding said that, in the past 48 hours, NATO warplanes had flown 318 sorties and struck 23 targets in several parts of Libya. That brought the total since the alliance assumed overall command of the operation from the United States last week to more than 1,500 sorties, striking antiaircraft missile defenses, tanks, munitions dumps and loyalist forces seeking to advance into Misurata, he said.”
  Bear in mind that Libya is a country about the size of Alaska in area with a population of about 50 people per square kilometer. Bearing that in mind, it does seem that the first paragraphy illustrates at least the possibility of a bit of overkill, n’est pas?

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By FRTothus, April 8, 2011 at 3:42 pm Link to this comment

These people do not need apologies.  They need to stop being killed, whether it is by us, or anyone else.  There is one sure way to reduce global terror, and that is for the US and its NATO allies to cease practicing it.

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