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NATO not doing enough in Libya: France

Press Trust of India  |  Tripoli 

As forces loyal to Muammar Gaddafi continue to push the rebels from their positions, cracks seem to be appearing in NATO over military strategy in Libya, with major NATO alliance partner France demanding that the punishing raids should be carried out to finish strongman's tanks and heavy artillery.

NATO is not doing "enough", the French Foreign minister Allen Juppe said, as he clamoured for heavier strikes to destroy heavy weaponry used by Gaddafi's forces in Libya to break the present stalemate on the ground.

"NATO must play its role fully. It wanted to take the lead in operations," Juppe said, adding that Libyan civilians remain at risk.

France, UK and the US under the banner of NATO are leading the drive against pro-Gaddafi forces in Libya.

"It must play its role today which means preventing Gaddafi from using heavy weapons to shell civilian populations," Juppe was quoted as saying by BBC.

Libyan rebels have been pushed back despite air raids by NATO on the forces of Gaddafi.

Meanwhile, Libya's former foreign minister Mussa Kussa, who is in the UK after defecting from Moamer Gaddafi regime, feared that the restive nation could become a "new Somalia".

"I ask everyone, all the parties, to avoid taking Libya into a civil war," the former minister said in a statement issued to the BBC.

"This would lead to so much blood and Libya will be a new Somalia," he said. "We refuse to divide Libya.

"The unity of Libya is essential to any resolution and settlement for Libya," he added.

Meanwhile, the government forces pounded besieged western town of Misurata, which has been the scene of heavy bombardments for more than a month now. The rebels pushed back an advance by Gaddafi's forces into the town.

In the eastern battlefront, where the government forces were rapidly advancing till yesterday, a major NATO strike destroyed 25 tanks on the outskirts of Ajdabiya and Misurata, helping the opposition stem their advance.

While 11 tanks were hit outside Ajdabiya, which the rebels were struggling to hold on, while another 14 were targeted on the outskirts of Misurata.

Earlier, the Benghazi-based council, which is demanding an end to Gaddafi's decades-long rule, said the "road map" set out by a delegation of five African presidents was "outdated", following the deaths and destruction wreaked in the past month since the proposals were first outlined.

"The demand of our people of our people from day one was that Gaddafi must step down," spokesman Mustafa Jabril said.

First Published: Tue, April 12 2011. 15:57 IST