East Libya’s rebel forces are on the run again in Ajdabiya tonight, after NATO warplanes attacked a column of their tanks advancing to contest control over the city with Gadhafian forces. At least 13 rebels were reported killed.
The commander of the rebel forces, Gen. Yunis, reported having already received an official apology from NATO for the killings, though publicly NATO insists it is still investigating the incident. The attack sparked considerable anger from the rebels, who were already disillusioned by NATO’s concern to launch attacks inside cities.
The indications from the rebels are that the tanks were being moved to the front line in a column, and that the rebels had informed NATO explicitly about the tank movement shortly before the attack. Gen. Yunis has demanded a “rational and convincing explanation,” something NATO has rarely had for anything it does in war.
The attack is particularly interesting in two regards: one is that Libyan rebels were condemning NATO just days ago for not launching enough attacks, and the other is that only yesterday NATO leaders were openly grousing about how inconvenient Gadhafi’s tanks have been to bomb. The rebels, it seems, have not been nearly as difficult to target.