The Libyan forces loyal to Muammar Qadhafi continue to attack innocent civilians, a top U.S. military commander overseeing the military operation in the country has said.
“Those forces (loyal to Qadhafi) are fully engaged in this conflict that is attacking those civilian populations,” Admiral Gerald P Hueber, Chief of Staff, Joint Task Force Operation Odyssey Dawn, told Pentagon reporters in a teleconference from abroad USS Mark Whitney.
Mr. Hueber said Mr. Qadhafi forces are using tanks, artillery, rocket launchers against civilians.
“It is outside, and they are making incursions into the city and targeting the population centres in those cities with that equipment,” he told reporters adding that according to intelligence reports there is no indication that Mr. Qadhafi’s forces are pulling back from Misurata or Ajdabiya.
“In protecting those civilians in accordance with what we’re doing with our coalition partners in our air plan, yes, we are interdicting and putting the pressure on Mr. Qadhafi’s forces that are attacking population centers,” he said.
The U.S. Admiral said that the UN Security Council resolution in this regard is clear, and that there is a cease-fire and those forces must stop all attacks against civilians, and the forces must stop advancing on those cities, and that humanitarian assistance must be allowed to reach the people in Libya.
He however denied reports about any civilian casualties due to American operations. “There have been no reports of civilian casualties. Our mission here is to protect the civilian populace. We choose our targets and plan our actions with that as a top priority,” he said in response to a question.
Mr. Hueber said there have been no reports of civilian casualties. “Our mission here is to protect civilian populace, and we choose those targets and we plan our actions with that as the top priority,” he asserted.
Giving details of the military operation, Mr. Hueber said from Benghazi, which now believed to be under opposition control, the U.S.-led coalition forces have moved west to Ajdabiya.
In Ajdabiya to Misurata, their targeted priorities are mechanized forces, those mobile surface-to-air missile sites, interdicting their lines of communications which supply their beans and their bullets, their command-and-control, and any opportunities for sustainment of that activity, he said.
U.S. he said has the ability to communicate with the opposition and Mr. Qadhafi forces. “We have told the opposition forces of how to manoeuvre. We have also told Qadhafi’s forces of late what they were expected to do, in accordance with the UN Security Council Resolution,” he said.
“Our view and our mission is perfectly clear of what we have asked those forces to do. And that’s to cease fire, all attacks against civilians must stop, the forces must stop advancing, I mentioned Benghazi, be pulled back from Ajdabiya, Misurata and Zawiyah, and humanitarian assistance must be allowed to reach the people of Libya. That message is being sent to the people of Libya and to Qadhafi’s forces,” Mr. Hueber said.