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  • westervillekid westervillekid Apr 12, 2011 3:38 PM Flag

    Libya-France says NATO must do more-US to cut social programs to help fund Libya war


    France says NATO must do more in Libya---US must increase its participation

    - Libyan rebels reported heavy fighting in the besieged city of Misrata on Tuesday and France said NATO must step up bombing to stop Muammar Gaddafi's forces attacking civilians.

    "It is not acceptable that Misrata is still under fire and being bombarded by Gaddafi's troops," French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe said in Luxembourg.

    NATO took over air operations from a coalition of the United States, Britain and France on March 31 and rebels have accused it of not doing enough, although they recently toned down criticism.

    Despite NATO raids, the government bombardment of Misrata, the last rebel stronghold in western Libya, has continued unabated with hundreds of civilians reported killed.

    Insurgents said renewed artillery bombardments and heavy fighting hit the city on Tuesday and they had beaten back two government offensives. Misrata, under siege for more than six weeks, is surrounded on three sides and the plight of civilians is said to be desperate.

    The criticism of NATO by France, which pushed for Western intervention in Libya, followed the collapse of an African Union peace initiative on Monday.

    Juppe told France Info radio: "It's not enough."

    He said NATO must stop Gaddafi shelling civilians and take out the heavy weapons bombarding Misrata. In a barbed reference to the alliance command of the operation, Juppe added: "NATO must play its role fully. It wanted to take the lead in operations, we accepted that."

    Speaking after meeting European Union foreign ministers in Luxembourg later, Juppe said NATO should "exert the most efficient military pressure. We need to be more efficient."


    NATO, which is operating under a U.N. mandate to protect civilians, rejected the criticism.

    "NATO is conducting its military operations in Libya with vigor within the current mandate. The pace of the operations is determined by the need to protect the population," it said.

    British Foreign Secretary William Hague said NATO must intensify its efforts, calling on other alliance countries to match London's supply of extra ground attack aircraft in Libya.

    But a British official in Brussels denied Hague was joining French criticism and said London was happy with the way the operation was being run.

    Libyan state television said a NATO strike on the town of Kikla, south of Tripoli, had killed civilians and members of the police force. NATO denied the report, saying it had targeted two tanks 21 kms (13 miles) away.

    Human Rights Watch says at least 250 people, mostly civilians, have died in Misrata, which is subjected to daily shelling and rocket fire.

    Analysts say it is vital to Gaddafi's survival because it supplies Tripoli and transport planes cannot fly because of NATO'S no-fly zone.

    A rebel spokesman in Zintan said Gaddafi's forces had fired mortars into the besieged town in the Western Mountains region, which is inhabited by ethnic Berbers.

    He said government soldiers, unable to get into Zintan, were targeting people in nearby villages, burning houses and poisoning wells.

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