[QODLink]
Africa
NATO steps up Libya airstrikes
Explosions rock Tripoli with reports of civilians killed, as Obama says Gaddafi's fall from power is "inevitable".
Last Modified: 24 May 2011 05:06
Libyan officials said three civilian were killed in airstrikes on Tripoli [Reuters - photo taken on guided government tour]

NATO warplanes have hammered Tripoli with some of the heaviest airstrikes yet, as US president Barack Obama and British prime minister David Cameron said Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi would "inevitably" be forced from power.
 
At least 12 huge explosions rocked the capital in the early hours on Tuesday. Government spokesman Mussa Ibrahim said three people were killed and 150 wounded.
 
Ibrahim said the strikes had targeted a compound of the Popular Guards, a tribally-based military detachment. But he said the compound had been emptied of people and "useful material" in anticipation of an attack, and the casualties were people living in the vicinity.

"This is another night of bombing and killing by NATO," Ibrahim told reporters.

Led by France, Britain and the United States, NATO warplanes have been bombing Libya for more than two months since the United Nations authorised "all necessary measures" to protect civilians from Gaddafi's forces in the country's civil war.

Click here for more of Al Jazeera's special coverage

"We have degraded his war machine and prevented a humanitarian catastrophe. And we will continue to enforce the UN resolutions with our allies until they are completely complied with," Barack Obama, the US president, and David Cameron, the British prime minister, wrote in The Times newspaper on Tuesday.

UN Security Council 1973, passed on March 17, established a no-fly zone and called for a ceasefire, an end to attacks on civilians, respect for human rights and efforts to meet Libyans' aspirations.

In upbeat comments, Hillary Clinton, the US secretary of state, told a news conference in London on Monday: "We do believe that time is working against Gaddafi, that he cannot re-establish control over the country."

She said the opposition had organised a legitimate and credible interim council that was committed to democracy.

"Their military forces are improving and when Gaddafi inevitably leaves, a new Libya stands ready to move forward," she said. "We have a lot of confidence in what our joint efforts are producing."

Conflict deadlocked

Rebels trying to overthrow Gaddafi's 41-year rule control the east of the oil-producing country, but the conflict has been deadlocked for weeks.

In an escalation that could help break the stalemate, French officials said on Monday that France and Britain would deploy attack helicopters, a step aimed at targeting Gaddafi's forces more precisely.

"What we want is to better tailor our ability to strike on the ground with ways that allow more accurate hits," Alain Juppe, the French foreign minister, said.

But the use of helicopters carries risks for NATO, as they would fly lower than warplanes and be more exposed to ground fire.

The downing of helicopters could draw ground forces into rescue efforts.

Reporters, whose movements are tightly controlled by the Libyan authorities, were taken to visit Tripoli's central hospital after the heavy night raids.

They were shown the corpses of three men with grave head injuries.

A man who identified himself only as Hatim, who had deep gashes and abrasions on his arms and legs, said the force of the blasts had caved in part of his residence near the military compound.

"We were in the house and then, wham, the ceiling came down, right on me," he said.

Smaller blasts were heard intermittently for several minutes after the final round of strikes, which shook windows and brought plaster down from ceilings in the Tripoli hotel where foreign reporters were staying.

Source:
Agencies
Topics in this article
People
Country
City
Organisation
Featured on Al Jazeera
Italy struggles to deal with growing flood of migrants willing to risk their lives to reach the nearest European shores.
Israel's Operation Protective Edge is the third major offensive on the Gaza Strip in six years.
Muslims and Arabs in the US say they face discrimination in many areas of life, 13 years after the 9/11 attacks.
At one UN site alone, approximately four children below the age of five are dying each day.
Featured
More than fifty years of an armed struggle for independence from Spain might be coming to an end in the Basque Country.
After the shooting-down of flight MH17, relatives ask what the carrier has learned from still-missing MH370.
Human rights and corporate responsibility prompt a US church to divest from companies doing business with Israel.
Afghan militias have accumulated a lengthy record of human-rights abuses, including murders and rapes.
Growing poverty is strengthening a trend among UK Muslims to fund charitable work closer to home.
join our mailing list