NATO airstrikes cap week of rising pressure on Libya
NATO destroyed eight Libyan warships Friday in a week that saw a push for ICC arrest warrants for Qaddafi and a tough speech from Obama supporting the rebellion.
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"It would be easy to be negative over some of Obama's shortcomings regarding Syria and Palestine, but he has been extremely clear, extremely direct, and extremely strong on Libya, and that gives us heart," says the activist. "In Libya, certainly in Tripoli, I do not believe Obama has lost credibility."Skip to next paragraph
In Pictures Libya's critical transition
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'Significant stockpile' of boats destroyed
US and NATO military operations in Libya – under the banner of a mid-March UN Security Council resolution authorizing "all necessary means" to protect civilians from Qaddafi's regime – have been instrumental in ensuring the fledgling opposition was not overrun.
British planes today targeted the Al-Khums naval base, the closest to the rebel enclave of Misurata, from where rebels forced out pro-Qaddafi forces two weeks ago.
They struck two corvettes and a "facility in the dockyard constructing fast inflatable boats, which Libyan forces have used several times in their efforts to mine Misurata and attack vessels in the area," said British military spokesman Maj. Gen. John Lorimer.
The strikes destroyed a "significant stockpile" of the boats, he said.
But that didn't prevent Libyan state TV from declaring that "residential and military" targets had been hit by NATO planes, nor that the rebel-held city of Benghazi – from where a National Transitional Council rules all of eastern Libya in rebel hands – had somehow returned to pro-Qaddafi control.
The reports were demonstrably false, however – Western journalists in Benghazi indicated no change in status or pro-Qaddafi uprising.
Rebel make gains, oil minister has reportedly defected
Rather than a definitive victory for Qaddafi forces, stalemate has become the new watchword, though rebels have made recent gains in enclaves like Misurata and the western mountains.
The government denied those defection reports, saying Mr. Ghanem was on an official visit to Europe. They also denied a statement from US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who on Thursday told CBS that Qaddafi's wife and daughter had left Libya.
Adding to the pressure on the regime, this week the chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court in The Hague called on judges to issue arrest warrants for Qaddafi, his most influential son, and his intelligence chief.