Accessibility links

Breaking News

Qaddafi Forces Kill 22 Rebels In Misurata Shelling


Speaking at a Brussels think tank, U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates questioned the future of the NATO alliance.
Medical officials and witnesses say forces loyal to Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi shelled the outskirts of the rebel-held city of Misurata today, killing at least 22 people.

Qaddafi's forces used tanks, artillery, and incendiary rockets in the bombardment of Dafniya, about 30 kilometers west of Misurata.

Qaddafi forces had renewed their shelling near Misurata on June 8. The city is one of the few the rebels control in western Libya.

Qaddafi's forces are surrounding Misurata on all sides but the north, where the city has access to the Mediterranean Sea for supplies and food through Libya's largest port.

Meanwhile, Norway's government says it will scale down its fighter jet contribution in Libya from six to four planes and withdraw completely from the NATO-led operation by August 1.

Defense Minister Grete Faremo said she expected understanding from NATO allies because Norway had a small air force and cannot "maintain a large fighter jet contribution during a long time."

The announcement comes shortly after U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates warned that the United States' military alliance with Europe faced a "dim, if not dismal" future.

In a speech to the Security and Defense Agenda think tank in Brussels, Gates questioned NATO's viability due to the lack of military spending and political will of the U.S. allies.

With half of the countries in the 28-member alliance not participating in the Libya campaign, Gates said it reflected a worrisome lack of military assets.

He warned that "shortcomings" in capability and will could jeopardize the alliance's campaign in Libya.

Meanwhile, Libyan state television reported that Libyan forces today shot down a NATO helicopter. NATO denied the report.

compiled from agency reports