London can sustain Libyan engagement

June 14, 2011 at 1:24 PM

LONDON, June 14 (UPI) -- With U.S. lawmakers passing a bill curbing funding for military engagement in Libya, a British general said his forces could stay in the fight indefinitely.

Some U.S. lawmakers are upset with U.S. President Barack Obama's decision to commit military assets to a U.N.-mandated no-fly zone over Libya.

U.S. Rep. Brad Sherman, D-Calif., inserted an amendment into a bill that funds veteran affairs and military construction. His amendment prevents that money from being spent "in contravention of the War Powers Act."

The War Powers Resolution of 1973 says U.S. forces should withdraw from conflict after 60 days unless Congress approves the military action.

British Gen. David Richards, chief of the defense staff, brushed off suggestions that his forces couldn't sustain their engagement in Libya for much longer.

"We can sustain this operation as long as we choose to," he told the BCC. "I'm absolutely clear on that."

Richards was responding to claims by British naval chief Adm. Mark Stanhope who said priorities in Libya would have to change if the conflict lasts another six months.

The U.N. Security Council in March approved military force in Libya to protect civilians from attacks by forces loyal to Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi.

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