Libya is geographically a very large nation, with more territory than Iraq, Afghanistan and Vietnam combined. At the same time, it is a comparatively compact nation, with the population clustered along the coast and mostly in major cities.
This has left NATO in an awkward position in its efforts to bomb Gadhafian military forces engaged in combat, as with the two sides fighting over a handful of disputed cities, those forces are inevitably near large populations of civilians. Which has led to NATO charging that the military is deliberately using “human shields” in the war.
The complaints however, center around Gadhafi’s tanks in Misrata being “dispersed” across the city and inside the city, where the fighting is and where the population is. Though the allegation of human shields sounds dramatic, all it really means is that NATO is mad the tanks aren’t all clustered together in the desert, making them sitting ducks for air strikes.
This has made the Libyan rebels angry, because NATO is reluctant to carpet bomb cities on their behalf. Whether the NATO grousing is an attempt to explain the complaints or to prepare the public for impending civilian killings, however, remains to be seen.