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Libya rebels want `explanation,` not apology from NATO

Last Updated: Saturday, April 9, 2011 - 00:21

Benghazi: Libya`s rebels are "not seeking
an apology but an explanation" from NATO after a friendly fire
incident that killed four of their members, a spokesman said
on Friday.

"We are not questioning the intention of the NATO,"
Shamsiddin Abdulmolah, told a news agency.

"It appears that there has been a breakdown of
communication, perhaps due to the visibility on the ground ...
and that the positions of our tanks have not make clear to the
NATO," he said.

On Thursday, a NATO air strike hit rebel tanks west of
the town of Ajdabiya, killing two rebel fighters and two
medics in the second friendly fire incident in a week.

NATO chief Anders Fogh Rassmussen today expressed
regret over the deaths caused in the "very unfortunate

But the deputy commander of the alliance`s mission
over Libya, British Rear Admiral Russell Harding, refused to
apologise for the incident, saying NATO was unaware the tanks
belonged to the rebels.

Yet General Abdelfatah Yunis, the rebel commander,
said in Benghazi on Thursday night that the insurgents had
informed NATO that they were moving T55 and T72 heavy tanks
from Benghazi to Brega.

A source close to key Western envoys in Benghazi who
are in regular contact with the opposition Transitional
National Council said "The problem is there are no official
direct links" between the rebel military leadership and NATO.

"It would make sense to get a NATO situational
awareness team on the ground" to gather information that would
"cut down the chances of situations like yesterday
(Thursday)," the source said.

The source added that communications equipment was due
to arrive in Benghazi Friday to give the rebels a link to one
of the European capitals, and messages to NATO could be passed
through that channel as an interim measure.

However, the source stressed that equipment was just
to aid situational awareness on the ground. "It won`t be used
for targeting. We`re not looking at becoming the air arm of
the opposition."


First Published: Saturday, April 9, 2011 - 00:21
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