Washington: As US and NATO military commanders mulled over complexities of enforcing a ‘no-fly zone’ over Libya, the strife-torn nation’s newly emerged opposition leaders are approaching the United Nations to ask for foreign air strikes to pulverise Mummar Gaddafi’s capabilities to hit civilian targets.
By invoking the United Nations, a council of opposition leaders based in Libya’s second largest city of Benghazi said, “We hope to preempt more massacres by Gaddafi’s air force in the coming days as the tide turns against the despot.”
“There needs to be an intervention under the cover of UN,” Muftah Queidir, a lawyer close to Benghazi’s governing coalition was quoted as saying by The Washington Post.
Facing an unprecedented challenge to his 41-year-old rule, Gaddafi’s regime has used air force jets to launch systematic strikes on civilian protesters as well as presidential areas in a bloody crackdown.
The misuse of fighter planes to target civilians has enraged the international opinion, with US Senate late Tuesday adopting a resolution calling for a ‘no-fly zone’ over Libya.
The Senate made a call to the UN Security Council to consider a ‘no-fly zone’ to protect Libyan’s from Gaddafi.
Though US Defence Secretary Robert Gates has ruled out for the moment a Western military intervention in Libya saying “there is no unanimity within the NATO for the use of armed force”.
In an apparent reference to demand for enforcing a ‘no-fly zone’, Gates said, “The kind of options that have been talked about in the press and elsewhere need to be considered very carefully.”
“An intervention beyond humanitarian assistance would have to take into account the effect of US led war in Afghanistan and likely hostile perceptions in the region to US military action,” Gates said at a news conference along with the top American military officials Admiral Mike Mullen.
But US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Libya was at “crossroad and the stakes were very high.”
British Prime Minister David Cameron, a leading advocate of ‘no-fly zone’ option said, “It is not acceptable to have a situation where Gaddafi can me murdering his own people using fighters and helicopter gunships.”
“It is right for us to plan and look at plans for a no-fly zone,” he said.
Gaddafi’s son Saif al-Islam warned western forces not to take military action against Libya and said the country is prepared to defend itself against foreign intervention.
In Benghazi, another leading anti-Gaddafi movement leader said he feared that the dictator was going to commit more massacres. “Our effort should be on how to save the people.”
Washington Post quoted another rebel leader in Misurata, a town about 120 miles east of Tripoli that is besieged by Gaddafi’s tanks as saying, “The residents also wanted foreign help against Gaddafi.”
“A no-fly zone would limit his (Gaddafi’s) movement, his ability to move mercenaries from South to North and to recruit mercenaries from sub-Saharan Africa,” he said.