US Lawmakers to Vote on Curbing Libya Operations

Posted June 23rd, 2011 at 9:55 pm (UTC-5)
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The speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives says lawmakers will vote Friday on a resolution to cut off funding for U. S. drone attacks and airstrikes in Libya.

John Boehner said Thursday the measure orders the removal of U.S. forces except for those engaged in non-hostile operations. The bill would allow the military to continue conducting search and rescue efforts, intelligence, surveillance, refueling and other support missions.

The House leader said the chamber will also vote on a second resolution to authorize U.S. participation in Libya for one year. That measure is similar to a bill sponsored by two top U.S. senators, Republican John McCain and Democrat John Kerry.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton Thursday pleaded for continued U.S. involvement in the NATO-led operation. She spoke with House Democrats in a closed-door meeting to explain the mission and the stakes if the House votes to prohibit funds.

House Republicans and Democrats are angry with U.S. President Barack Obama for failing to seek congressional authorization to intervene in the Libya conflict.

Meanwhile, the International Criminal Court announced that a hearing will take place in The Hague on Monday to decide whether Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi will face arrest for crimes against humanity.

An ICC prosecutor has asked for arrest warrants for Mr. Gadhafi, his son Seif al-Islam and the head of Libyan intelligence, Abdullah al-Senussi.

The court's plans came as Mr. Gadhafi vowed to continue fighting and denounced NATO for airstrikes that caused civilian casualties.

Mr. Gadhafi said in an audio statement broadcast late Wednesday that NATO states are “murderers” who have “killed our children and grandchildren.”

NATO acknowledged an airstrike on Sunday that caused civilian casualties and one on Friday that hit a column of rebel military vehicles.

Mr. Gadhafi's remarks came after France and Britain rejected an Italian call for a halt to military action in order to allow aid access. NATO Secretary-General Andres Fogh Rasmussen also dismissed Italy's call for a suspension of hostilities.

Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini Wednesday asked for a suspension in fighting so aid corridors could be set up.

Rebels fighting Mr. Gadhafi's forces have taken over much of the eastern half of the country. They also control pockets in the west, including the vital port city of Misrata, about 200 kilometers from the capital, Tripoli.