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Tue 3 May 2011 08:07 PM

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NATO says patience needed in Libya campaign

Senior commanders rejects suggestions that the war is is stalemate; says allied goals achievable

NATO says patience needed in Libya campaign

A senior commander of NATO's

Libya mission on Tuesday rejected suggestions the war was in a

stalemate and said the alliance was steadily achieving its

goals.

Italian Vice Admiral Rinaldo Veri, commander of the naval

element of the operation, said the NATO mission would continue

as long as it took for Muammar Gaddafi's forces to return to

barracks and stop threatening civilians.

"I personally don't think there is a real stalemate - let's

say we are going slowly but steadily," he said by video

conference from the NATO mission headquarters in Naples.

Veri said that after destroying Gaddafi's frontline forces,

NATO was targeting his supply lines, ammunition depots,

logistics and lines of communication.

"This is a work that needs patience, needs determination,

but we still have to keep going on and we are still moving

forward," he said. "A mission of this type is a deliberate

mission and therefore takes time."

Western countries that launched the Libya campaign in March

had hoped for a swift overthrow of Gaddafi, but his

better-trained and equipped militias have halted rebel advances

despite a supporting bombing campaign now led by NATO.

The top US military officer, Chairman of the Joints Chiefs

of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen, used the term stalemate last month

to describe the situation in Libya.

Veri said the NATO effort was complicated as Gaddafi's

forces had split up and were camouflaging themselves, making it

more difficult to determine their positions. He said NATO was

also taking great care to avoid civilian casualties.

"Having said that, every day something positive happens and

... we take a step closer to the final objective we have to

reach," he said.

Veri said a strike on Tripoli at the weekend which the

Libyan government said killed one of Gaddafi's sons, Saif

al-Arab Gaddafi, was aimed at an installation being used to

direct military operations against Libyan civilians.

"I want to make it clear and I repeat what was said that we

do not target individuals," he said.

NATO spokeswoman Oana Lungescu said NATO could not confirm

the reports the death of Gaddafi's son but added: "Obviously we

regret any loss of innocent life in this conflict."

She reiterated the need for a political solution in Libya

and said prosects for that would be discussed at a meeting of

the Contact Group on Libya in Rome on Thursday.