No NATO apologies for rebels’ death.
Fierce fighting was raging on Sunday in the key eastern Libyan town of Ajdabiya after forces loyal to Col Muammar Gaddafi pushed back rebels, the BBC informs. The rebels had been outflanked by pro-Gaddafi forces and forced back from their advance on Brega. The government said it had shot down two rebel helicopters flying in contravention of a Nato-policed no-fly zone but this has not been verified.
Meanwhile, the African Union diplomatic mission has gathered in Mauritania, with South African President Jacob Zuma flying in on Sunday.
Libyan Deputy Foreign Minister Khaled Kaim said government forces had shot down two rebel helicopters in the east. He said: “A clear violation was committed by the rebels to [UN] resolution 1973 relating to the no-fly zone.” NATO says it is applying the zone fairly and on Saturday escorted a rebel MiG-23 fighter jet back to its base. NATO is continuing its air strikes on Gaddafi military targets as it pursues the UN resolution to protect civilians.
Last week, NATO has refused to say sorry for a friendly fire attack on rebel tanks in Libya that left 13 fighters dead last week. Despite an apology from British Foreign Secretary William Hague, alliance commander Rear Admiral Russell Harding spoke merely of his “regrets” at the loss of life, The Mirror informed. And he blamed the blunder on not knowing anti-Gaddafi forces had tanks, believing the vehicles were government ones. He said bluntly: “I am not apologising”. Unicef said it had “reliable and consistent reports” that snipers had hit children. Rebel chief General Abdel Fattah Younes called for a “rational and convincing explanation” from NATO for the strike. But he stressed it would not damage relations with the allies.