NATO jets, helicopters launch intense daytime airstrikes over Libya
NATO continued to intensify its airstrikes against Libyan leader Moamer Gaddafi's forces on Sunday, launching several rounds of attacks over the capital Tripoli and the northern town of Brega, DPA reported.
Jets struck a military barracks in Tripoli on Sunday morning, and British Apache helicopters destroyed a rocket launch system near the northern city of Brega, the February 17 Libya news opposition website reported.
The alliance began using helicopters as part of its mission on Saturday
Meanwhile, Libyan state media reported that the airstrikes over Tripoli aimed to "destroy Libyan resources and infrastructure."
The report, published by state-run news agency JANA, referred to NATO as "the crusader alliance" and accused Qatar and the UAE of financing the airstrikes.
NATO's airstrikes began at the end of March after the Security Council passed a resolution ordering the protection of civilians in the conflict.
British Foreign Secretary William Hague said the NATO mission was intensifying and had no deadline, but ruled out a ground troop operation in the North African country.
"We're not going to set a deadline. You're asking about Christmas and who knows, it could be days or weeks or months, (but) it is worth doing," Hague told BBC television. NATO extended its mission, originally scheduled to end later this month, until the end of September following a meeting in Brussels last week.
"This is not mission creep, changing the nature of the mission, this is intensifying what we are doing in order to make this mission a success," he added.
Russian Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Ivanov said he was concerned about NATO's use of attack helicopters in Libya, warning the alliance was one step away from a land war.
"Using attack helicopters on land targets is, in my view, the last step before a land operation," Ivanov said at an Asian security summit in Singapore.
NATO said it flew 134 sorties over Libya on Saturday. Key targets included a missile storage facility and a command-and-control facility in Tripoli. One rocket launcher, two checkpoints, and a barracks in Brega were also targeted.
Rebels began fighting Gaddafi's forces in February, following brutal government crackdowns on mass protests demanding Gaddafi's ouster from power.