NATO warns rebels of consequences like Gaddafi forces if they attack civilians

April 1st, 2011 - 1:24 pm ICT by ANI  

Washington, April 1 (ANI): Members of the NATO alliance have reportedly warned that their planes and missiles will not hesitate to target the Libyan rebels if they attack civilians during their fight against the regime of Colonel Muamma Gadafi.

As NATO takes over control of airstrikes in Libya, the coalition has told the rebels that they would face the same consequences as Gaddafi forces if civilians, be they pro or against Gaddafi, are attacked, The New York Times reports.

“We’ve been conveying a message to the rebels that we will be compelled to defend civilians, whether pro-Gaddafi or pro-opposition. We are working very hard behind the scenes with the rebels so we don’t confront a situation where we face a decision to strike the rebels to defend civilians,” a senior Obama administration official has said.

The warning has come at a time when the civil war in Libya is becoming more and more chaotic with the passing of each day.

Meanwhile, American military officers have claimed that Libyan government forces have been supplying assault rifles to pro-Gaddafi civilians in the town of Surt, and they are in return chasing rebel forces in non-military vehicles like sedans and trucks, accompanied by Libyan troops, the paper said.

A senior alliance military officer has raised concern over the issue by branding it as a ‘challenge’.

“This is a challenge. The problem of discriminating between combatant and civilian is never easy, and it is compounded when you have Libyan regime forces fighting irregular forces, like the rebel militias, in urban areas populated by civilians,” he added.

Oana Lungescu, the senior NATO spokeswoman, said that NATO was taking action because the dictator’s forces were attacking Libyan civilians. She also said that the organisation will also target rebels if they take same steps like Gaddafi’s forces because the United Nations Security Council resolution “applies to both sides.”

“Our goal, as mandated by the U.N., is to protect civilians against attacks or threats of attack, so those who target civilians will also be targets for our forces, because that resolution will be applied across the board,” Lungescu added. (ANI)

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