Eight ships belonging to the Libyan Navy were struck overnight in NATO airstrikes on leader Moamer Gaddafi's forces in the ports of Tripoli, Sirte and al-Khums, the alliance said early Friday.
"All the vessels targeted last night were naval warships with no civilian utility," said Rear Admiral
Russell Harding, deputy commander of NATO's Libya operations.
The alliance chose the naval targets because Gaddafi's regime is using them increasingly in its conflict against anti-government forces and they represent a threat to NATO forces, he said in a statement issued in Naples, Italy.
NATO said it has seen the Libyan Navy laying mines and using escalating force over the past several weeks, disrupting humanitarian aid flows and showing an intention to attack NATO forces.
Fighting between rebels and government forces began in February. The opposition, which controls key eastern cities such as Benghazi, said at least 12,000 people have been killed since then.
NATO's airstrikes began at the end of March after the UN Security Council passed a resolution ordering the protection of civilians in the conflict