NATO rejects criticism over Libya

December 21st, 2011 - 2:30 am ICT by IANS  

Brussels, Dec 21 (IANS/RIA Novosti) The NATO has defended its mission in Libya, saying it saved lives and was strictly in line with the UN mandate.

“We took every precaution to minimise the risk to civilians with solid intelligence, a very strict target selection and precision-guided munitions,” NATO spokesperson Oana Lungescu said Tuesday.

“And we repeatedly warned civilians to stay away from military installations and equipment.”

“Our mission for Libya saved countless lives and we have regularly informed the UN on its conduct in full compliance with UN Security Council Resolution 1973.”

Russia’s UN envoy Vitaly Churkin had Monday called for a probe into the death of civilians killed in NATO air strikes during the military campaign in Libya.

His remarks came after The New York Times claimed that up to 70 people were killed in Libya during NATO’s eight-month military operation.

Lungescu said NATO took claims of civilian casualties very seriously, and was looking at such evidence carefully.

However, any such claims were the responsibility of Libya’s new government, she said.

“There is now a legitimate government in Libya, and the primary responsibility for looking into such claims and for follow-up action lies with the Libyan authorities,” she said.

Lungescu said NATO was in regular contact with the authorities but till now it has had no request from them to look into these incidents.

The NATO military operation in Libya began March 19, two days after the approval of a UN resolution on “targeted measures” to protect civilians.

The country saw almost 10 months of fierce fighting before the rebel National Transitional Council established control over the country’s territory.

Ousted leader Muammar Gaddafi was killed in October near his hometown of Sirte after being captured by NTC forces.

–IANS/RIA Novosti

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