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