Clinton cites atrocities by Gaddafi forces

Secretary of state’s comments come on eve of NATO talks and friction between allies over military campaign.

US Islamic forum 2011
Sarkozy and Cameron met to discuss military campaign in Libya on the eve of NATO talks in Berlin [EPA]

Hillary Clinton, the US secretary of state, says the US is receiving disturbing reports of new atrocities by Muammar Gaddafi’s forces in Libya.

Gaddafi regime militias and mercenaries have fired mortar and artillery rounds into residential areas in Misurata, Clinton said in a statement on Wednesday.

She said that Gaddafi’s forces destroyed food warehouses and cut off water and power to the contested city in an apparent attempt to starve the people into submission.

Snipers targeted people seeking medical attention, she said, and thousands were being forced from their homes by tanks.

Calling for the attacks on civilians to stop, Clinton reaffirmed that the US was documenting atrocities committed by Gaddafi’s forces so that those responsible could be held accountable.

Friction between allies

The US secretary of state arrived early on Thursday in Berlin for NATO talks within the Western alliance over how they share the burden of the military campaign in Libya.

Germany has taken a much more cautious approach to military intervention in Libya, Al Jazeera’s Nick Spicer reports from Berlin

The meeting of NATO foreign ministers on Thursday and Friday is among a series of international consultations on Libya. On Wednesday, world powers meeting in Qatar pledged financial assistance to the cash-strapped rebels.

Britain and France, which had led global calls for action to stop the Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi’s attacks on his own people, have pressed NATO allies to deploy more combat jets.

Alain Juppe, the French foreign minister, has said he would raise his concerns during the Berlin talks.

US President Barack Obama’s administration, which has stepped up the war in Afghanistan and proclaimed an end to combat operations in Iraq, has been keen for Western allies to bear the brunt of the Libya operations.

But the Pentagon said on Wednesday that US fighter jets were still carrying out bombing raids on Libya’s air defences, despite earlier statements that the country had halted major operations.

Nicolas Sarkozy, the French president, and David Cameron, the British prime minister, agreed at a separate meeting on Wednesday to step up military pressure on Gaddafi’s regime, a French presidency source told the AFP news agency on Wednesday.

During a working dinner in Paris, Sarkozy and Cameron agreed to increase “military pressure” on Gaddafi who “stays determined to maintain his war effort against his own population,” according to the source.

Paris and London led international calls for action to prevent Gaddafi’s regime from cracking down on a revolt against his rule, and now complain that they have been left with too much of the burden of enforcing the no-fly zone over Libya and in bombing Gaddafi’s artillery and armoured vehicles on the ground.

“The reason for being here in Paris tonight is that Britain and France are at the heart of this coalition,” Cameron told broadcaster Sky News in Paris before the meeting.

“With President Sarkozy, I’m going to be sitting down and making sure we leave absolutely no stone unturned in doing everything we can, militarily, diplomatically, politically to enforce the UN resolution,” he said in the interview.

The two leaders did not make public statements after the meeting, which was also attended by their defence ministers, AFP reported.

Source: News Agencies