Speaking today at the State Department, US Ambassador to Libya Gene Cretz said he had seen various estimates of the overall death toll of the violence in Libya, and that the toll could be as high as 30,000. The figure is dramatically higher than rebel estimates, which put the toll at 8,000 as of mid-March.
Perhaps more interesting, Cretz said that he didn’t think the US could get an accurate number “until we really get more hands-on experience on the ground.” The administration has repeatedly denied plans to send ground troops to Libya.
The tolls inside Libya are virtually impossible to verify at this point, with foreign media being kept largely sequestered from the action. Even the 8,000 toll from March was seen as surprisingly high, however, making the 30,000 toll far more than anyone likely expected.
Though still officially the ambassador, Cretz has been in DC since January, when he was recalled by the Obama Administration. Officials insisted it was unrelated, but the move came in the wake of WikiLeaks cables in which he mocked Gadhafi.