Coalition jets appear to have given the Libyan rebels a big assist by bombing the birthplace of Moammar Gadhafi, a city called Sirte that is located about halfway between Benghazi and Tripoli. Not to tell NATO its business, but how exactly does clearing a path for the rebels advancing toward Libya’s capital fit the U.N. mandate to protect civilians?

Update: The Guardian reports that “Rebel Libyan forces were halted about 50 miles from Sirte on Monday as Britain and France called on Gaddafi’s supporters to desert ‘before it is too late.’ “

From the same story:

However, the US military warned that the rebels’ advance could be quickly reversed without continued coalition bombing. “The regime still vastly overmatches opposition forces militarily,” General Carter F Ham, the highest-ranking American in the coalition operation, told the New York Times via email. “The regime possesses the capability to roll them back very quickly. Coalition air power is the major reason that has not happened.”



Coalition air raids have hit Muammar Gaddafi’s birthplace of Sirte, a key target for westward-advancing rebels.

A Libyan government spokesman said three Libyan civilians had been killed in the city’s port.

Unconfirmed rumours that rebels had taken Sirte sparked celebratory gunfire overnight in their stronghold Benghazi.

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