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Thursday, June 23, 2011

The Fall Of NATO: Italy Breaks Ranks To Call For Ceasefire Over Libya

Wednesday, 22 June 2011 22:55



Italy broke ranks with Nato yesterday and demanded an urgent halt to hostilities in Libya.
Franco Frattini, the foreign minister in Rome, called for an 'immediate suspension' of military operations to allow humanitarian aid to be brought to the wartorn country.
He also said military leaders should provide more details about Nato bombing raids followingmistakes which led to civilians being killed.
His demand for a ceasefire echoed comments by Arab League Chairman Amr Moussa on Tuesday.
However, British Prime Minister David Cameron played down calls to stop the mission and said it would eventually reach a 'satisfactory conclusion'.
Nato's mission - to enforce a no-fly zone over Libya to protect civilians from Colonel Muammar Gaddafi's troops - began in March after the tyrant launched a violent crackdown on a pro-democracy uprising.
But despite three months of military action and thousands of airstrikes against Libyan forces the dictator remains in power.
Concerns about the credibility of the mission increased after a Nato missile apparently misfired on Sunday striking a residential area and killing nine people, including two young children.
Speaking to the Italian parliament, Mr Frattini called for 'an immediate humanitarian suspension of hostilities' to allow aid corridors to be set up to relieve stricken citizens in areas around the besieged city of Misrata and Tripoli, the Libyan capital.
He added: 'With regard to Nato, it is fair to ask for increasingly detailed information on results as well as precise guidelines on the dramatic errors involving civilians.
Nato's military spokesman Wing Commander Mike Bracken said Nato's credibility was not at stake but that of 'the Gaddafi regime's use of human shields [and] firing missiles from mosques'.
In London, Mr Cameron insisted British forces could maintain the current level of operations in Libya despite concerns raised by senior military figures.
Medics from International Medical Corp treat injured fighters at a hospital near Misrata's western front line
Admiral Sir Mark Stanhope, the head of the Royal Navy, and Air Chief Marshal Sir Simon Bryant, the RAF's second-in-command, have both warned that their services would struggle to fight beyond six months because of defence cuts.
It led Mr Cameron to slap down top brass by warning: 'You do the fighting and I'll do the talking.'
He told MPs: 'I have sought assurances, and received them, from the Chief of the Defence Staff General Sir David Richards, that we are capable of keeping up this operation for as long as it takes.
'I think time is on our side, the pressure is growing and I believe we will take it to a satisfactory conclusion.'
Labour leader Ed Miliband said the put-down was 'very crass and high-handed' and urged ministers to reopen the defence review.

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