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NATO drops leaflets urging Qaddafi loyalists to surrender

One NATO leaflet directed at non-Libyan Qaddafi fighters warned in Arabic: 'You have been involved in violent acts against innocent Libyan civilians.... Leave this country now.'

By Roy GutmanMcClatchy Newspapers / September 6, 2011



Benghazi, Libya

As Libya's revolutionary regime prepares for a military assault on three towns still controlled by Muammar Qaddafi loyalists, NATO aircraft backing the new authorities aren't just destroying missiles and tanks.

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They're also firing leaflets – and targeting in particular the African-origin units thought to comprise much of his military force.

Mercenaries and other non-Libyan born troops may constitute the majority of the loyalist forces still in control of Bani Walid, southeast of Tripoli, where a military move is likely any day, Col. Omar Ahmed Bani, the rebel military force's spokesman told McClatchy Monday. Foreign-born fighters, many of whom have become naturalized, also are thought to dominate the forces in Sirte, Qaddafi's birthplace on the Mediterranean coast, and in Sabha, deep in the Sahara desert.

One NATO leaflet directed at non-Libyans features a full color picture of a burning one dinar note, with Qaddafi's face on it. The caption reads in Arabic: "Non-Libyan fighters. This is the only money you will receive for continuing to endanger Libyan civilians!"

It adds: "You have been involved in violent acts against innocent Libyan civilians. NATO has the means and the capabilities to implement the UN mandate to protect civilians and civilian populated areas. NATO is determined to use its capabilities against any threat. Leave this country now."

Another leaflet features a picture of a helicopter gunship having blown up what appears to be an arms depot and states: "There is no place to hide. It is not too late to walk away from the fighting. If you continue to threaten civilians you will face destruction."

US, British, French and other allied aircraft taking part in NATO operations drop leaflets every couple of days and put out radio broadcasts in what is known in military jargon as "non-kinetic activities."

"If they don't get the message, we go to other means," said Col. Roland Lavoie, spokesman for the NATO military operation in Naples.

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