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Stalemate Continues in Libyan Civil War, NAOT Limits Raids, Oil-Export Area Target of Attacks and Counter Attacks

April 17, 2011

News Summary by Hassan El-Najjar

The Libyan revolution has turned to a civil war between the revolution fighters and the Qadhafi Brigades. The free eastern provinces east of Ajdabiya have kept their peace away from the Qadhafi forces.

The oil-export area, which includes Ajdabiya and Buraiqa, has been the target of attacks and counter-attacks between the revolution fighters from the east and the forces of the dictatorial regime from the west.

The city of Misrata has been subjected to brutal siege and attacks by the regime forces but the revolution fighters there kept their steadfastness fighting day and night against Qadhafi forces. With help from NAOT naval forces, several Qatari-sponsored ships transported supplies to the besieged city.

Little is known about the fighting in Zintan and the western Mountain, near the Tunisian border.

NATO air strikes against the Qadhafi forces have declined in frequency because of the stalemate and the location of Qadhafi forces near civilian areas.

The criminal dictator, Qadhafi, has demonstrated that he won't leave Libya before the last drop of his fighters, many of whom are mercenaries, Libyans and non-Libyans.

In order to break this stalemate, the commander of the revolutionary forces, Abdul Fattah Younus, demanded that NATO provide the Libyan Liberation Army with helicopters in order to fight against the Qadhafi forces. He made that demand during an interview with Aljazeera TV from his office in Bani Ghazi.


Gadhafi forces shell east Libyan city of Ajdabiya

By BEN HUBBARD Associated Press

Apr 17, 2011, 8:45 AM EDT

AJDABIYA, Libya (AP) --

Troops loyal to Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi on Sunday shelled the rebel-held city of Ajdabiya, a strategic eastern town that has been the scene of fierce fighting in recent weeks.

The government bombardment of Ajdabiya marked a setback for the rebels, who were forced to retreat a day after having advanced as far as the outskirts of the oil town of Brega, about 60 miles (100 kilometers) to the west.

On Sunday, dozens of vehicles, some of them rebel trucks with heavy machine guns mounted in the back, could be seen fleeing Ajdabiya toward the rebel stronghold of Benghazi, about 100 miles (160 kilometers) to the north.

Last month, Gadhafi's troops encircled Ajdabiya with tanks, armored personnel carriers and heavy artillery before NATO airstrikes decimated the forces besieging the city and allowed the rebels to reclaim the town and push west.

The NATO-led air campaign has kept rebels from being defeated on the battlefield by the better trained and equipped government forces, but it still has not been enough to completely turn the tide. The rebels have been unable to reach Gadhafi's heavily defended hometown of Sirte, the gateway to the regime-controlled western half of the country.

Rebel advances west of Ajdabiya - through Brega and its companion oil center of Ras Lanouf, another 60 miles (100 kilometers) farther on - have ultimately foundered as rebels overextended their supply lines and were routed by the heavier firepower and more sophisticated tactics of the government forces.

But while Gadhafi's troops have been able to halt rebel advances and push back east, they have been unable to move in on Benghazi, largely because of the threat of NATO airstrikes on Gadhafi's exposed forces.

In Paris, French Defense Minister Gerard Longuet dismissed statements from a top NATO official that the alliance is short of aircraft. Longuet said instead that NATO's mission in Libya is hampered by a lack of ground information.

"There is no lack of planes but a lack of identification of mobile objectives," he said in an interview published Sunday in the daily Le Parisien. "The problem is that we're missing concrete and verifiable information on identified objectives on the ground."

Longuet said that "coalition aviation is capable of breaking all logistical provisions of Gadhafi's troops" to the east. But he acknowledged that in urban combat, "if the aviation avoids tragedies, it still isn't solving the problem."

After a meeting of NATO foreign ministers last week in Berlin, the alliance's secretary-general, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, said NATO needed "a small number of precision aircraft" to hit Gadhafi's forces.

"I'm hopeful that nations will step up to the plate," he said, noting that the two-day Berlin meeting was not held to solicit new pledges of support.

The need for the additional aircraft comes as the situation has changed on the ground, Fogh Rasmussen said.

US servicemen play key roles aboard French carrier

By SLOBODAN LEKIC Associated Press

Apr 15, 2011, 12:45 PM EDT


U.S. Navy Lt. Patrick Salmon is getting ready for another day at work, strapping himself into the cockpit of his strike jet and roaring off this French aircraft carrier for his daily attack mission against Moammar Gadhafi's ground forces.

He'll be launched into action by Kyle A. Caldwell, another U.S. Navy lieutenant who operates the flattop's catapult systems. When Salmon is ready to set his plane back on deck, yet a third U.S. Navy lieutenant, Philip Hoblet, will be standing by in a French rescue helicopter, hovering just off the ship's bow in case any of the returning pilots are forced to ditch into the sea.

The United States, which originally led the Libya campaign, has been steadily reducing its role over the past two weeks. On March 31, it handed over command and control of the international campaign to NATO, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, and shortly after that it ceased all attack missions over Libya - setting of a search by NATO for more planes capable of carrying out precision strikes against Gadhafi's forces.

NATO said Friday that the U.S. still flies one-third of the Libya operation's missions. But that refers to surveillance and refueling missions, not to attack flights over Libyan territory.

But even though the U.S. has withdrawn its forces from the front lines of the NATO campaign, a handful of Americans serving on this French navy carrier remain at the forefront of the action.

They are members of a little-known French-American naval exchange program in which U.S. officers spend time in the French navy - known as the "Marine Nationale" - and French officers spend time in the U.S. navy.

"Because French carrier pilots are trained in the United States, this helps a lot with standardization of procedures," said Cmdr. Matthew Hogan, 44, Grass Valley, California. "We're very comfortable operating with each other."

Hogan, who is nine months into a two-year posting at the naval base of Toulon in the south of France, serves on the flattop as a staff officer for Rear Adm. Philippe Coindreau, commander of the French fleet conducting the airstrikes against Libya.

The carrier, known in the navy by its nickname "Le Grand Charles," began reconnaissance flights over Libya on March 22. Attack missions followed almost immediately, and the ship has acted as the tip of the spear for NATO s aerial campaign ever since.

France currently has only a single carrier in its inventory, while the U.S. operates 11 of the floating air bases. The French therefore long ago decided it wasn't cost-effective to organize a training program of their own for their pilots, but rely instead on U.S. Navy training.

French naval aviators and some support personnel regularly head to U.S. Navy bases in Mississippi and Florida to learn carrier operations.

The four American officers serving aboard live in or near the base in Toulon, but only Hoblet has his family with him. The others say they spend too much time at sea to make it worthwhile for their wives and children to relocate to a foreign country.

The Americans received their basic language training at a Defense Languages Institute in Monterey, California. Although they achieved fluency in French, mastering the intricacies of colloquialisms and idioms remains a challenge.

Caldwell, 38, of Colombia, SC, remembers his confusion when his workmate told him: "Ne faut pas pousser la grand mere dans les orties" - literally "don't push your grandmother into the nettles."

The English equivalent of the phrase is "don't try so hard."

"So when we're not working, we're mostly studying French," he said. Working in another language on board a carrier involves the additional complication of communicating in intensely noisy conditions. Jet engines roar, cables clang across the deck, catapults thump as they heave planes aloft and lifts whine has they move planes from the hangars to the flight deck.

But the four have received high praise from French officers for their language abilities, their performance and their camaraderie.

Caldwell, who has worked on several U.S. carriers, said the similarities between the two navies outweigh the differences, and said the major distinction was the number of sorties he handles a day.

"On U.S. carriers we trap about 160 aircraft a day at sea, but here it's just 35-40 a day," he said. "Also, on U.S. carriers we're able to launch and trap aircraft at the same time, but because of the shorter size here we need to close the carrier deck for each operation."

 Obama says Gadhafi is feeling pressure to leave

Apr 15, 2011, 12:10 PM EDT


President Barack Obama says a military stalemate exists on the ground in Libya, but the United States and NATO have averted a "wholesale slaughter" and Moammar Gadhafi is under increasing pressure to leave.

Obama tells The Associated Press he doesn't see a need to resume direct U.S. participation in enforcing the no-fly zone, saying it's assisting with intelligence, jamming and refueling. He acknowledges there's essentially a stalemate there, but adds that the NATO operation is less than a month old.

Obama says Gadhafi is "getting squeezed in all different kinds of ways," asserting he's running out of money and supplies. The president also says he's confident that Gadhafi ultimately will be forced to surrender power and that there's no need for a change in U.S. policy at this time.

US, Britain, France vow to push ahead in Libya

Apr 14, 2011, 7:06 PM EDT


The United States, Britain and France are pledging to keep up the military campaign in Libya until leader Moammar Gadhafi leaves, a display of unity despite European complaints about the low-profile U.S. role.

In a joint declaration, President Barack Obama, British Prime Minister David Cameron and French President Nicolas Sarkozy say they will not stop the campaign and will "remain united." Writing in a newspaper opinion piece, the three leaders said their mandate under a United Nations Security Council resolution is to protect civilians in Libya.

"It is not to remove Gadhafi by force," they wrote. The declaration will be published in Friday's editions of the International Herald Tribune, Le Figaro and the Times of London.

The joint piece comes as French and British officials have been calling for more strikes by their NATO allies against Gadhafi forces.

The carefully worded declaration denounces Gadhafi and says: "It is impossible to imagine a future for Libya with Gadhafi in power."

"So long as Gadhafi is in power, NATO must maintain its operations so that civilians remain protected and the pressure on the regime builds," the three leaders wrote. "Then a genuine transition from dictatorship to an inclusive constitutional process can really begin, led by a new generation of leaders. In order for that transition to succeed, Gadhafi must go and go for good.

They say Gadhafi must leave "definitively." If he doesn't, they warn, his opponents would face vicious reprisals and the country could become a haven for extremists.

White House spokesman Jay Carney on Thursday played down differences among the allies. Asked about British and French demands for more strikes, Carney said: "It is my understanding that that tempo has picked up. ... We remain confident that NATO is fully capable of executing the mission."

NATO says Gadhafi must go but won't force him out

Apr 14, 2011, 6:11 PM EDT


The United States and its allies put up a united public front Thursday on the goals of NATO's stalemated military mission in Libya but failed to resolve behind-the-scenes bickering over how to achieve them.

NATO members agreed on paper with U.S. President Barack Obama that Moammar Gadhafi had to go to end the crisis, they also made clear that they would not be the ones to oust him. Although several NATO members want the alliance to commit more planes to expand the air campaign, a day of meetings in the German capital closed without any specific commitments for more aircraft.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton appealed for unity, saying Gadhafi was taunting the alliance by continuing to strike cities held by rebels seeking his overthrow.

"As our mission continues, maintaining our resolve and unity only grows more important," Clinton said. "Gadhafi is testing our determination."

Late Thursday, Obama, British Prime Minister David Cameron and French President Nicolas Sarkozy said in a joint declaration that they will not stop the campaign and "remain united" in efforts to remove Gadhafi from power.

The statement, made available to The Associated Press in Paris, warned that unless Gadhafi leaves "definitively," his opponents faced vicious reprisals and the country could become a haven for extremists.

As attacks on opposition-held areas intensified in Libya, NATO foreign ministers met in Berlin to demonstrate commitment to a mission some nations have begun to second-guess. The United States is resisting suggestions that it resume a large combat role in Libya to help break a deadlock between rebels and better-armed forces loyal to Gadhafi.

Clinton and other top diplomats pointedly said their U.N. mandate for an air campaign does not extend to Gadhafi's exit by force.

The allies resolved anew to enforce a U.N. arms embargo, protect civilians acting to push Gadhafi forces out of cities they have entered, and get humanitarian aid in.

But differences over the scope of the military operation persisted, with Britain and France insisting on more action, particularly from sophisticated U.S. surveillance and weapons systems, and U.S officials maintaining that the alliance already has the tools to get the job done.

French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe said Paris "had wanted (NATO) to intensify its strikes, and we received the assurance that that would be the case."

Juppe, speaking after the day's sessions in the German capital, Juppe said NATO will appeal to members for more planes, but that it is too soon to predict which nations would step forward.

Juppe said he had spoken to Clinton, but he did not sound optimistic of a greater U.S. commitment.

"I think they will continue along the same lines," Juppe said of the United States, "which is to say punctual interventions when it is necessary and where the means they have are particularly useful."

Clinton did not say if the U.S. would send more ground attack craft, but she said Washington would continue to support the NATO mission until its goals were met.

The U.S. says it sees no need to change what it calls a supporting role in the campaign - even though it has still been flying a third of the missions - and many other NATO nations have rules preventing them from striking Gadhafi's forces except in self-defense.

The limitations of NATO's aims have been tested by the Libyan rebels' inability to make progress against Gadhafi's better organized forces. Government forces have camouflaged themselves and hidden in populated areas to avoid Western airstrikes that are now in their third week.

NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said NATO needed more aircraft to attack Gadhafi's forces in populated areas.

"To avoid civilian casualties we need very sophisticated equipment, so we need a few more precision fighter ground-attack aircraft for air-to-ground missions," he said. "I don't have specific pledges or promises from this meeting, but I heard indications that gave me hope."

In Washington, Marine Col. David Lapan, a Pentagon spokesman, said the U.S. has received no request by NATO to resume flying offensive strike missions.

Lapan said U.S. electronic warfare planes flew eight missions over Libya on Wednesday night and Thursday morning but fired no weapons. Those aircraft specialize in jamming or attacking radars and other elements of an air defense system. They are available for use in the NATO air campaign without advance approval from Washington because the Pentagon deems their missions to be defensive rather than offensive.

The Pentagon noted that Americans have flown 35 percent of all air missions over the last 10 days. Fogh Rasmussen said the alliance is keeping up "a high operational tempo."

Meanwhile, Gadhafi's troops unleashed heavy shelling for three hours on the besieged western port city of Misrata, which is partly held by rebels. At least 13 people were killed, underscoring the urgency of the situation. New explosions also rocked Tripoli, where anti-aircraft guns returned fire, apparently at NATO warplanes.

Ousting the longtime Libyan leader is not part of NATO's job, but Clinton called on nations around the world to "intensify our political, diplomatic and economic mission to pressure and isolate Gadhafi and bring about his departure."

In Cairo, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon chaired a meeting of regional and international organizations on Libya and set three targets: reaching and implementing a cease-fire, delivering humanitarian aid and starting a dialogue on Libya's future.

France, which pushed NATO to launch the Libyan campaign, is now pushing other countries at the meeting to work "on more robust, more efficient, more rapid actions," French Foreign Ministry spokesman Bernard Valero said in Paris.

One proposal from Italy, Libya's former colonial ruler, calls for the western powers to provide defensive weapons to rebels. Clinton didn't comment on that plan but said the world must "deepen our engagement with and increase our support for" the Libyan opposition.

German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said Berlin agrees with France and others that "Libya can only have a good future if this dictator goes."

In a related matter, the European Union rewarded the most senior official to defect from Gadhafi's regime by unfreezing his assets and lifting a visa ban that had barred him from traveling in any of the 27 EU countries.

The measure lifting sanctions against former Foreign Minister Moussa Koussa, which was agreed to Tuesday and made public Thursday, was at least in part an attempt to lure other senior figures into deserting Gadhafi defectors, an EU official said.


David Rising in Berlin, Angela Charlton in Paris, Don Melvin in Brussels and Robert Burns in Washington contributed to this report.

US doing limited airstrikes for NATO in Libya

LOLITA C. BALDOR Associated Press

Apr 13, 2011, 6:20 PM EDT


 Amid complaints from allies that the U.S. military should be doing more in the Libya operation, Pentagon officials disclosed Wednesday that American fighter jets have continued airstrikes inside the country even after the United States turned the mission over to NATO last week.

The revelation came as Pentagon officials laid out U.S. participation in the Libya conflict over the past 10 days, including that Americans have flown 35 percent of all air missions.

Those missions, they said, include bombing attacks against Libyan surface-to-air missile launchers, as well as surveillance and refueling operations. It was the first time the Pentagon acknowledged that airstrikes continued after the U.S. handed over control of the Libya mission to NATO on April 4.

According to Pentagon officials, eleven U.S. fighter jets were assigned to NATO to look for and take out the air defense systems.

The revelation triggered questions because U.S. military officials have said consistently that American fighter jets would only conduct strikes in Libya if NATO makes a special request and it is approved by top Pentagon leaders.

Pentagon spokesman Col. Dave Lapan told reporters Wednesday that NATO has made no such requests for U.S. airstrikes since taking over the lead role in Libya.

But Lapan said that approval process applies only to airstrikes meant to protect civilians from Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi's forces. Such strikes could target regime tanks or forces moving against Libyan citizens.

The fighter jets assigned to NATO, Lapan said, are used solely for a separate mission to take out enemy air defenses, such as the truck-mounted surface-to-air missile launchers. The 11 jets are considered NATO aircraft, under separate leadership and committed to making the U.N.-approved no fly zone over Libya safer and more effective.

The distinction is slim, since the purpose of the no-fly zone is to protect civilians.

According to military officials, six F-16 fighter jets and five Navy EA-18G Growler electronic attack planes have been assigned to NATO. They dropped bombs on three separate days - April 4, 6 and 7, defense officials said. The targets included mobile surface-to-air missile targets in Libya.

The officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity to provide operational details, said the 11 U.S. aircraft have flown 97 of the 134 air defense mission sorties since April 4. Italy and other nations are also participating, but defense officials said such missions are considered a unique capability that the U.S. can perform.

The 11 fighter jets, officials said, are based in Italy.

In a stark acknowledgement that NATO had not yet accomplished its U.N.-mandated mission of protecting Libyan civilians from attacks by Libyan government forces, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton on Wednesday said the U.S. is receiving disturbing reports of "renewed atrocities" by pro-Gadhafi troops.

"Regime militias and mercenaries have continued their attacks on civilians in Misrata, indiscriminately firing mortar and artillery rounds into residential areas of the city," Clinton said in a statement. "The regime has reportedly destroyed crucial food supply warehouses and cut off water and power to the city, laying siege to the Libyan people in an apparent attempt to starve them into submission. Snipers have targeted civilians seeking medical attention, and thousands of civilians are being forced out of their homes by regime attacks with tanks and artillery."

Asked why U.S. officials did not disclose the recent strikes against Libya air defenses until Wednesday, a senior defense official said the military considers them defense, not "offensive strike operations" because they are targeting missile sites in an effort to protect allied planes patrolling the no-fly zone over Libya. The official said the Pentagon does not believe it has been deceitful by not disclosing the strikes until now.

"It is completely consistent with how we have described our support role ever since the transition to NATO," Pentagon press secretary Geoff Morrell said. "We weren't just going to be flying around and doing jamming. If these guys want to show themselves, we're going to take them out."

The U.S. has done 77 percent of all the refueling missions and 27 percent of the surveillance flights, Lapan said. The U.S. has provided 22 tanker aircraft and 13 surveillance and reconnaissance aircraft to NATO for use in Libya operations, including two Predator drones, a high-altitude unmanned Global Hawk, and an array of planes that have sophisticated jamming, radar, communications and spying capabilities.

U.S. officials have emphasized on repeated occasions that the American military would step back into a supporting role in the Libyan conflict after taking the lead early on in the operation.

But in recent days Western diplomats and Libyan rebels have complained about the reduced U.S. role in the conflict, saying that the loss of American aircraft in the combat has had a significant impact. Lack of U.S. fighters, they said, has made it difficult for the opposition forces to gain any ground - and at times even sustain their positions - against the regime forces.


AP Broadcast correspondent Sagar Meghani contributed to this report.

Clinton cites fresh atrocities by Gadhafi forces

Apr 13, 2011, 6:16 PM EDT


Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton says the U.S. is receiving disturbing reports of new atrocities by Moammar Gadhafi's forces in Libya.

Clinton says Gadhafi regime militias and mercenaries have fired mortar and artillery rounds into residential areas in Misurata. In a statement Wednesday, Clinton says the regime reportedly has destroyed food warehouses and cut off water and power to the contested city in an apparent attempt to starve the people into submission.

Clinton says snipers targeted people seeking medical attention. Thousands are being forced from their homes by tanks. And regime officials are promising to attack humanitarian aid shipments to the western city.

Clinton says attacks on civilians must stop. She says the U.S. is documenting atrocities committed by Gadhafi's forces so that those responsible can be held accountable.

Despite NATO rift, US holds to limited Libya role

MATTHEW LEE and RAF CASERT Associated Press

Apr 12, 2011, 9:22 PM EDT


Despite rebel setbacks and an increasingly public rift with NATO allies, the U.S. will stick to its plan to remain in the back seat of the Libya air campaign, the Obama administration insisted Tuesday after three weeks of air missions that have failed to turn the tide against Moammar Gadhafi.

France's defense minister declared that without full American participation, the West probably would not be able to stop attacks by Gadhafi loyalists on besieged rebel cities.

U.S. officials said they were comfortable with their role and had no plans to step up involvement, even as British and French officials said Washington's military might was needed to ensure the mission's success. The Americans said NATO could carry out the operation without a resumption of the heavy U.S. efforts that kicked it off last month.

"The president and this administration believes that NATO, and the coalition of which we remain a partner, is capable of fulfilling that mission of enforcing the no-fly zone, enforcing the arms embargo and providing civilian protection," White House spokesman Jay Carney told reporters.

"The U.S. has not abandoned this operation by any means," State Department spokesman Mark Toner said. "We still are offering support where we can. I don't think it's correct to say that there's somehow discord in the alliance."

The public complaints of Britain and France, however, contradicted that position, and U.S. officials contended privately that some in Europe appeared to be backing down on pledges to take the lead in the operation once the opening phase was over. The administration had not wanted to keep a primary role after that point and had made its participation in the NATO mission contingent on having only a supporting function afterward.

With the disagreement out in the open, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton is expected to hear loud calls for the U.S. to resume heavier fighting when she travels to Germany for meetings of NATO foreign ministers on Thursday and Friday. Those talks are expected to be dominated by the situation in Libya, where rebels fighting forces loyal to Gadhafi are facing increasing challenges and appealing for additional assistance.

At the State Department, spokesman Toner said President Barack Obama had been clear from the beginning that the U.S. "role would diminish as NATO stepped up and took command and control of the operation."

He added, "The U.S., of course, as needed, would help out if requested in other capacities, in other capabilities, but really our role has receded in this mission."

At the Pentagon, Marine Col. Dave Lapan said there was no move to increase American military involvement.

"I don't see any planning to re-assert U.S. strike aircraft and forces as we saw early in the campaign," the Pentagon spokesman said. "NATO has those capabilities to conduct strikes."

"Ultimately, what needs to happen is Gadhafi needs to stop attacking his own people," Lapan said. "The lack of U.S. strike missions doesn't change that."

At NATO headquarters in Brussels, alliance officials agreed and said the operation was succeeding.

NATO Brig. Gen. Mark Van Uhm rejected criticism of the operation. He said the North Atlantic military alliance was performing well in enforcing the arms embargo, patrolling the no-fly zone over Libya and protecting civilians.

"With the assets we have, we're doing a great job," Van Uhm told reporters.

France and Britain differed, calling for the rest of the group, in particular the United States, to step up the campaign.

At a European Union meeting in Luxembourg, Paris lamented the limited U.S. military role in Libya and chided Germany, too, for its lack of involvement. In a dire analysis, France's defense minister said that without full American participation in the combat operation, the West probably couldn't stop Gadhafi's attacks on rebel-held cities.

French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe shredded NATO's united front, saying its actions to this point were "not enough" to ease the pressure on the city of Misrata, which has been subjected to weeks of bombardment by forces loyal to Gadhafi.

"NATO absolutely wanted to lead this operation. Well, voila, this is where we are," Juppe said. "It is unacceptable that Misrata can continue to be bombed by Gadhafi's troops."

Britain's Foreign Secretary William Hague agreed that the allies must "intensify" their efforts, but he used a more diplomatic tone.

"The U.K. has in the last week supplied additional aircraft capable of striking ground targets threatening the civilian population of Libya," Hague said before a meeting of EU foreign ministers. "Of course, it will be welcome if other countries also do the same. There is always more to do."

French Defense Minister Gerard Longuet complained that France and Britain were carrying "the brunt of the burden." He said the reduced U.S. effort - American forces are now in support, not combat, roles in the airstrike campaign - have made it impossible "to loosen the noose around Misrata," which has become a symbol of the resistance against Gadhafi.

Longuet also criticized Germany, which is not taking part in the military operation, saying that Berlin's commitment to primarily back a humanitarian effort only was "secondary" at best. Germany does not take part in NATO's military airstrikes in Libya because it sees the operation as too risky. Italy also has been reluctant to get involved in the airstrikes because it had been Libya's colonial ruler.

France's frustration with the stalemate on the ground, where Libyan rebels have struggled to capitalize on Western air attacks, has been echoed in several Western capitals, but rarely were the comments as barbed as Juppe's.

The reduced U.S. role since NATO took over command on March 31 has clearly affected the operation.

"Let's be realistic. The fact that the U.S. has left the sort of the kinetic part of the air operation has had a sizable impact. That is fairly obvious," said Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt.

Libyan opposition spokesman Ali al-Issawi said that Gadhafi's soldiers have killed about 10,000 people throughout the country and injured 30,000 others, with 7,000 of the injured facing life-threatening wounds. He said an additional 20,000 people were missing and suspected of being in Gadhafi's prisons. There was no way to independently verify his claims.


Casert reported from Luxembourg. Associated Press writers Pauline Jelinek and Sagar Meghani contributed from Washington, Angela Charlton from Paris, Selcan Hacaoglu from Turkey, Adam Schreck from Doha, Qatar, and Paisley Dodds and Raphael G. Satter from London.

Qatar confirms helping Libyan rebels sell oil

By ADAM SCHRECK AP Business Writer

Apr 12, 2011, 3:45 PM EDT

DOHA, Qatar (AP) --

The tiny Gulf Arab nation of Qatar said Tuesday it was behind last week's sale of more than $100 million of crude oil from areas held by Libya's rebels.

Qatar also said it has been shipping gasoline and other fuel to Benghazi, the main city in rebel-held eastern Libya, providing a lifeline to opposition-held areas that lack sufficient capacity to produce their own refined fuel.

Though not a surprise, the announcement underscores Qatar's position as the most prominent Arab state supporting opposition forces seeking to topple Libyan strongman Moammar Gadhafi. Qatar is one of two Arab countries enforcing the no-fly zone over the North African Arab nation.

On Wednesday, diplomats will gather in the Qatari capital Doha for a meeting of the Libya contact group, which was set up to act as the political guide to NATO-led airstrikes and humanitarian missions in Libya. The talks aim to coordinate an international response to the conflict.

Qatar said it arranged a shipment last week of 1 million barrels of crude oil from the eastern Libyan port of Tobruk, which is in territory controlled by the rebels. The shipment was worth about $120 million.

Energy traders widely believed Qatar had brokered the deal, but Doha had not previously confirmed its role.

A spokesman for Qatar Petroleum, the government company that oversees Qatar's energy exports, declined to comment on the shipment Tuesday night.

"The fact that they're confirming it is new, but it's not really surprising," said Greg Priddy, an oil analyst at Eurasia Group in Washington. "What's important about it ... is that the Qataris are essentially absorbing some of the risk in marketing it."

Qatar also said it has delivered four shipments of fuel to Benghazi, including diesel, propane and gasoline. The statement carried by the official Qatar News Agency said the shipments were handled by the state-owned Qatar International Petroleum Marketing Co., which trades under the name Tasweeq.

Priddy said rebel-held areas need the fuel because small and antiquated refineries in their territory don't have much capacity.

Qatar has been the strongest Arab voice supporting the anti-Gadhafi rebels, and the region's first to commit fighter planes to enforcing the NATO-dominated no-fly zone over Libya. It was the second county in the world after France to recognize the rebels' Transitional National Council as Libya's legitimate government.

Algeria denies Libyan rebel claims on mercenaries

Apr 12, 2011, 2:51 PM EDT

ALGIERS, Algeria (AP) --

Algeria's foreign ministry is denying claims by a top Libyan rebel leader that the government is supporting mercenaries fighting for Moammar Gadhafi.

The ministry issued a statement Tuesday calling such accusations "irresponsible," adding that Libyan rebel leader Mustafa Abdul-Jalil had persisted with the claims despite repeated Algerian denials.

Abdul-Jalil has said the rebels raised the issue of Gadhafi's use of foreign mercenaries from other African and Arab countries - particularly Algeria - during talks with an African Union delegation working to find a cease-fire in Libya. He did not elaborate.

Algeria has called for an end to the fighting in neighboring Libya, and has warned that terrorists may seek to infiltrate anti-Gadhafi groups.

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