Thursday, March 31, 2011

Nato takes command of Libya operations

A Libyan man inspects destroyed military vehicles that belonged to pro-Gaddafi forces at the site of a Nato air strike on the outskirts of Benghazi, Libya. Nato assumed command of all operations in Libya on Thursday. -- PHOTO: AP

BRUSSELS - NATO assumed command of all operations in Libya from 0600 GMT (2pm Singapore time) on Thursday, taking over from an international coalition in charge since March 19, a diplomat told AFP.

'The operation 'Unified Protector' agreed on Sunday evening by the countries of the alliance officially began this morning at 0600 GMT as planned,' he told AFP, confirming the transfer to the alliance of responsibility for bombing raids on Libya previously commanded by US, French and British forces.

Under the command of Nato European headquarters at Mons in Belgium, the operation is directed by the Nato regional command centre in Naples, Italy.

The 28-member alliance began to take command of Libyan air bombing operations from a US-led coalition on Wednesday, as warplanes and other assets from several allies came under the military organisation's control.

Alliance ships have enforced an arms embargo off Libya's coast since last week and is also policing Libya's skies to prevent hostile jets from flying.

Nato agreed to take on the broader mission - strikes against forces threatening civilians - on Sunday after overcoming Turkish concerns about the air strikes and French reluctance to hand the lead to the alliance. -- AFP

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