Brussels: NATO said its commanders were not
aware that Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi was in a convoy
that NATO bombed as it fled Sirte, as NATO`s governing body
gathered today to decide how to end its bombing campaign in
The success of NATO`s seven-month military operation in
Libya has helped reinvigorate the Cold War alliance and
polished the reputation of France and Britain, the two
countries that drove it forward. Analysts attributed its
success to the fact that NATO remained steadfast over the
summer during a long and grinding stalemate against Gaddafi
loyalists and avoided the temptation to send ground troops
In a statement today, the alliance said an initial
yesterday morning strike was aimed at a convoy of
approximately 75 armed vehicles leaving Sirte, the Libyan city
defended by Gaddafi loyalists. One vehicle was destroyed,
which resulted in the convoy`s dispersal.
Another jet then engaged approximately 20 vehicles that
were driving at great speed towards the south, destroying or
damaging about 10 of them.
"We later learned from open sources and allied
intelligence that Gaddafi was in the convoy and that the
strike likely contributed to his capture," the statement said.
After Libya`s former rebels killed Gaddafi yesterday,
officials said they expected the aerial operation to end very
soon. But the North Atlantic Council may also decide to keep
air patrols flying for several more days until the security
situation on the ground stabilises.
The final decision will depend on the recommendation of
Adm Jim Stavridis, the supreme allied commander, and the
Military Committee, the highest military organ.
NATO`s Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen says the
end of the campaign "has now moved much closer." He has also
hailed the success of the mission, saying that it demonstrated
that the alliance continues to play an "indispensable" role in
confronting current and future security challenges.