NATO Admits Accidentally Hitting Libyan Rebels

Posted June 18th, 2011 at 10:25 pm (UTC-5)
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NATO admits it accidentally hit Libyan rebels in an airstrike two days ago.

The alliance said Saturday its forces saw a column of military vehicles in an area of conflict between rebels and Libyan forces and attacked it. The convoy was later confirmed to be an opposition patrol. NATO gave no figures on casualties but said it “regrets any possible loss of life or injuries.''

The coalition has also called Libyan government claims that alliance airstrikes are targeting civilians “outrageous.” Spokeswoman Oana Lungescu said Saturday it is Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi and his forces who have been “systematically and brutally attacking” Libyan people.

On Friday, Mr. Gadhafi delivered a fiery audio message in which he vowed to defeat NATO forces. His message came as NATO warplanes pounded targets in the capital, Tripoli.

Libyan state television says more allied airstrikes took place on Saturday in a neighborhood in the capital.

Elsewhere, clashes have erupted between forces loyal to Mr. Gadhafi and rebels in the northwestern city of Nalut. Rebel fighters said Saturday that at least eight people have been killed in the unrest.

Diplomatic efforts to help resolve Libya's crisis continue.

Leaders of groups that include the European Union, African Union and United Nations gathered at the Arab League headquarters in Cairo Saturday. They discussed policies that could help end Libya's conflict, protect civilians and provide humanitarian assistance.

In a separate development, Austria on Saturday became the latest foreign power to announce that it will recognize the opposition Transitional National Council as the legitimate representative of the Libyan people. The group has already received recognition from countries that include Italy, France and Qatar.