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Air Strikes, Russian Pressure Squeeze Qaddafi


A plume of smoke rises in a sky after an air strike in Tripoli on May 27, when Group of Eight countries increased public pressure on Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi to step down.

A plume of smoke rises in a sky after an air strike in Tripoli on May 27, when Group of Eight countries increased public pressure on Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi to step down.

NATO warplanes have bombed targets in the Libyan capital, Tripoli, for a fifth night in a row.

Libyan state TV said several sites were hit in the overnight attack. The Libyan broadcaster said NATO raids also caused "human and material" damage near Mizda, to the south.

A subsequent report said NATO struck targets in the district of Tripoli where Qaddafi has his residence. A NATO mission spokesman told AFP on condition of anonymity that three bombs were dropped on targets early in morning. Reporters in Tripoli say the raid struck an army barracks, not far from Qaddafi's residence.

The attacks came hours after at a G8 summit in France Russian President Dmitry Medvedev joined Western leaders in urging Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi to step down and offered to mediate his departure.

"We maintain contacts with both sides. You now that Russia has not severed diplomatic relations [with the Libyan government] and we are in close contact with it," Medvedev said. "We have met with representatives of the new forces based in Benghazi and, of course, we have held consultations with representatives of the current leader's political team in Tripoli."

Medvedev said Qaddafi no longer had the right to lead his country.

In Tripoli, Deputy Foreign Minister Khaled Kaim said the government had not been officially informed of the Russian position.

In Misurata, a city in eastern Libya held by the rebels, doctors said five rebels had been killed and more than a dozen wounded in fresh fighting with Qaddafi's forces.

Qaddafi's forces intensified their attacks too on Zintan, part of a chain of mountain settlements near Libya's border with Tunisia, where rebels have been holding off assaults for months.

compiled from Reuters reports
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