Saturday, June 4, 2011

NATO deploys helicopters to increase pressure on Gadhafi

Helicopter gunships .- French and British were first used in Libya in early Saturday to hit targets in the oil port of Brega, while NATO forces intensified their air offensive against Moammar Gadhafi. The alliance led by NATO expanded its mission to protect civilians in Libya for another 90 days this week, while France said it would increase the military pressure and work with people close to Gadhafi to persuade them to leave the colonel.

This was the first operational mission by the British Army Apaches by sea, "said Defense Secretary of Britain, Liam Fox," The additional capacity is now being used by NATO reinforces the longstanding commitment of Great Britain and determination (...) of NATO to ensure that the Libyan people achieve their freedom and resolve their own future, "he said.

Military analysts say the attack helicopters will allow more precise attacks against Gadhafi forces that hide in areas buildings and reduce the risk of fatalities. But given the vulnerability of helicopters to ground fire, the deployment also increases the risk that Western forces suffer their first casualties in the campaign.

Critics have warned the conflict on an expansion of the mission, but NATO has said that the use of helicopter gunships would be an advance deployment of ground troops, which Western nations have been ruled out. Now in its fourth month, the conflict in Libya remains stagnant, with rebels who have been unable to leave their strongholds and advance to Tripoli, where it seems Gadhafi is entrenched.

Attack helicopters hit military targets around the eastern city of Brega, which houses an oil export terminal. The rebel forces have taken control of the eastern city of Benghazi, raided the west of Brega at the beginning of their revolt, before being forced to retreat to the outskirts of the city of Sirte in late March.

Since then, Gadhafi forces have been in charge of the oil city. "The Apaches were ordered to attack with precision radar facility and a military checkpoint, both located in the vicinity of Brega" said Maj. Gen. Nick Pope, head of strategic communications office of the British defense command.

In the latest diplomatic setback for Gadhafi, China conducted its first confirmed contact with Libyan rebels this week, after a series of defections of high-profile figures of the Libyan Government, including a senior official of the oil industry and former Prime Minister Shokri Ghanem .

Libyan rebels and NATO have made Gadhafi's renunciation of the first condition to agree a ceasefire in the conflict, but the Libyan leader said emphatically to South African President Jacob Zuma, would not leave the country in northern Africa.

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