Airstrikes Alone Aren’t Enough in Eastern Libya
Posted on Apr 19, 2011
The fight in Libya is moving closer to the ground as NATO commanders admitted Tuesday that airstrikes alone cannot hold back Moammar Gadhafi’s powerful attacks on rebel-held Misrata, where hospitals are overwhelmed with casualties, while Britain said it will dispatch senior military officers to advise the opposition.
Misrata, Libya’s third-largest city, has been under siege for nearly two months, with rebels holding on to seaside positions in the port area. In recent days, Libyan troops have pounded the city with shells and rockets.
AP reported that NATO officials have acknowledged difficulty in trouble destroying Gadhafi’s mortars and rocket launchers from the air, for fear of harming civilians in such strikes.
“There is a limit to what can be achieved by airpower to stop fighting in a city,” said NATO Brig. Gen. Mark van Uhm.
Given NATO’s humanitarian mandate reflecting the U.N. Security Council resolution on Libya, which does not allow ground forces, “It’s very difficult” to stop the regime’s firepower on Misrata, he said.
Meanwhile, Britain has committed senior military officers to Benghazi, also in the rebel-held east. The Telegraph reports some British MPs are concerned about a Vietnam-style quagmire as the U.K. commits to an extended ground presence in Libya. —KDG
Creative Commons / Rob Brown