NATO Says Not Scaling Down Libya Operation

Posted June 28th, 2011 at 10:55 am (UTC-5)
Leave a comment

NATO's commander for the Libya operation says the allied force is not scaling down its airstrikes despite calls from some nations for a pause in the operation.

Canadian Lieutenant General Charles Bouchard said the mission, entering its fourth month, has made “significant progress” and that attacks on civilians by Libyan government forces have lessened.

The NATO comments came as the International Criminal Court's top prosecutor urged aides of Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi to arrest him and hand him to the court for trial.

Luis Moreno-Ocampo's remarks Tuesday were made after The Hague-based court issued arrest warrants Monday for Mr. Gadhafi and two top lieutenants on war crimes charges linked to their suppression of the opposition uprising.

Moreno-Ocampo said NATO forces, which are launching air strikes in support of rebels fighting Mr. Gadhafi, have no legal method to arrest the Libyan leader. A NATO spokesman told the French news agency that it is not up to the alliance to take Mr. Gadhafi into custody.

Libya dismissed the arrest warrants late Monday. Justice Minister Mohammad al-Gamudi said Libya does not accept the legitimacy of the court.

The ICC issued the warrants earlier Monday against Mr. Gadhafi, his son Seif al-Islam and the head of Libyan intelligence, Abdullah al-Senussi.

The ICC indictment accuses the Libyan leader and his aides of deterring protesters through the use of detention, torture and lethal force, such as ordering snipers to fire on civilians leaving mosques.

In Washington, White House spokesman Jay Carney said on Monday that the warrants are another indication Mr. Gadhafi “has lost his legitimacy.” He said the Libyan leader must be held accountable.

Britain, France and Italy all praised the arrest warrants.

Mr. Gadhafi is the second sitting head of state to have an ICC arrest warrant issued against him. One was previously issued for Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, but has yet to be served.