Though the Gadhafi government has repeatedly claimed it, NATO today denied reports that it is deliberately launching air strikes against Gadhafi forces to bolster the latest rebel offensive in the restive southwest.
Libya’s Deputy Foreign Minister claimed NATO had ratcheted up the air strikes in the region during the offensive, and rebels have suggested the offensive was being done with NATO permission. NATO spokesman Mike Bracken, however, insisted that NATO was sticking with the UN mandate and was not becoming directly involved in ground battles.
Which seems an extremely difficult case to make after months of air strikes aimed at stalling regime offensives against Misrata, and doubly so since the rebel forces that are advancing were armed by French weapons drops in the region.
Indeed, the UN mandate called for a no-fly zone aimed at protecting civilians from air strikes. The no-fly zone was accomplished in short order but the war has repeatedly been escalated since, with NATO officials openly demanding regime change, and NATO strikes regularly killing civilians. The claim then that NATO is sticking with the mandate seems absurd on its face.