Italy, Arab League Head Call for End of Hostilities in Libya

Posted June 22nd, 2011 at 6:45 am (UTC-5)
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Italy's foreign minister and the outgoing head of the Arab League have each called for a halt to hostilities in Libya.

Foreign Minister Franco Frattini told Italian lawmakers Wednesday the suspension of military operations in Libya is “essential” for immediate humanitarian aid.

Meanwhile, Britain's Guardian newspaper quoted Arab League head Amr Moussa as calling for a ceasefire and saying now is the time to reach a political solution to the crisis. The newspaper said Moussa also expressed reservations about his support for the NATO bombing campaign after seeing civilian casualties.

NATO acknowledged an airstrike on Sunday that caused civilian casualties and one on Friday that hit a column of rebel military vehicles. A NATO military spokesman said the Sunday incident was caused by a “weapon malfunction” and the Friday incident was a case of mistaken identity.

NATO said Tuesday one of its unmanned drones disappeared over Libya, disputing reports that forces loyal to leader Gadhafi had shot down an alliance attack helicopter.

Bracken said the alliance lost track of the helicopter along the central Libyan coast and is investigating the incident.

It is not clear whether ground fire or a mechanical failure brought down the drone.

Libyan state television repeatedly broadcast footage of aircraft wreckage it identified as a manned Apache attack helicopter near Zlitan, about 135 kilometers east of the capital, Tripoli.

France and Britain began deploying attack helicopters as part of the NATO-led mission earlier this month.

Meanwhile, at least four opposition fighters were killed and 50 others wounded in clashes with loyalist forces in Dafniya, west of the rebel-held port city of Misrata.

The Reuters news agency reported that four rockets fired by Libyan government troops landed in Misrata for the first time in several weeks. Reuters said no one was hurt in Tuesday's attack.