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NATO air strikes hit Tripoli - Libyan state TV

Published time: April 21, 2011 03:11
Edited time: April 22, 2011 03:18

NATO aircraft has bombarded south-western parts of the Libyan capital, Tripoli, killing seven civilians, reports AFP, quoting Libyan state television.

­In addition, the Libyan state information agency Jana says NATO planes have also attacked the town of Bir al-Ghanam, to the south of Tripoli, killing four more civilians there.

The attacks of the “crusader aggressors” were aimed at civilian and military targets and destroyed several houses in Tripoli, claims Libyan TV. 

Meanwhile, Al-Jazeera reports on Thursday morning that NATO aircraft have struck the crucial oil-production city of Ajdabiya in the west of the country.

NATO however denies killing civilians in the Tripoli air-strike, stating their target was a military compound, reports AFP.

Later on Thursday a Libyan rebel leader alleged that opposition forces have taken control of a post on the Tunisian border near a former rebel-held town.

The reported capture of the Dhuheiba border crossing could open important channels to the nearby town of Nalut, about 240 kilometers southwest of Tripoli.

The rebel leader, Shaban Abu Sitta, says the border post was taken on Thursday after three days of fierce battles with government soldiers outside Nalut.

The claim cannot be independently verified. Colonel Gaddafi's forces have restricted the movement of journalists in the areas they control.

Anti-government protests began in Libya in mid-February, following the uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt, and soon led to an armed conflict between the rebels and troops of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi.

The military operation in Libya began on March 19, after the UN Security Council passed a resolution allowing the implementation of a no-fly zone over Libya, with the professed aim of protecting civilians from pro-Gaddafi troops. On March 31 NATO took the command of the operation.

The operation has since been heavily criticized as, according to many analysts, it has brought the situation in Libya to a stalemate and caused even more civilian deaths.

Deputy editor of the British Internet magazine “Spiked” Rob Lyons says that Britain and France and other countries are stretching the bounds of the UN resolution as much as they can. 

“The definition of protecting civilians has gone from taking a few pot shots at tanks through to putting a few boots on the ground,” says Lyons. “And that may even go further, this talk of sending in military personnel to protect humanitarian aid,” adds Lyons. But they can “face  the possibility that after all their efforts so far, large numbers of civilians are getting killed. It is going to put them in a very awkward position about what they do next.”

­Simon Assaf, a journalist at the London-based Socialist Worker newspaper, says “NATO is hijacking the Libyan revolution.”

“I think what we have to remember at all points is that these revolutions that are taking place across the Arab world and across the region are about an expression of something new, not simply replacement of your dictator by a foreign power or, as in the case of Egypt, of one bad regime with another,” the journalist told RT. “It’s about, really, expressing something new.

“And what we are seeing in Libya unfortunately is, the best way to put it really, the West hijacking this revolution. And in this process, they are making it very, very difficult for the revolution to succeed,” Assaf concluded.

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