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Western troops seen on the ground in Libya

Western troops seen on the ground in Libya
A Libyan Rebel uses field glasses to monitor the area near the Ajdabiya at a check point prior heading towards the front line outside the Libyan eastern city Ajdabiya on May 12, 2011, where fighting between rebels and forces loyal to leader Moamer Kadhafi is ongoing. Rebels controlled the airport in Misurata, spokesmen for the Libyan rebels said. UPI\Tarek Alhuony. | License Photo

TRIPOLI, Libya, May 31 (UPI) -- A TV report showing Western troops on the ground with Libyan rebels in a possible violation of a U.N. decree brought no immediate comment from the world body.

The al-Jazeera English report showed six armed Western troops, "possibly British, seen liaising with the fighters" in Dafniya, a rebel battle area front line near Misurata, Libya's third-largest city. The city has been under attack by forces loyal to Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi.

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The Westerners, which al-Jazeera reported may have been facilitating forthcoming helicopter attacks, "left hurriedly" when they spotted the TV camera, the Qatari network reported.

A spokeswoman for U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told United Press International Monday night Ban's office had no comment on the report. She did not say whether the U.N. Security Council intended to investigate the report.

A March 17 Security Council resolution approved a no-fly zone over Libya to protect civilians from attacks by Gadhafi forces and authorized "all necessary measures" to protect civilians, but specifically excluded a "foreign occupation force of any form on any part of Libyan territory."

NATO, which has controlled the no-fly zone since March 31, has not agreed to send ground forces into Libya, NATO Defense College Transformation Chair Christopher Schnaubelt wrote in an International Herald Tribune commentary May 18.

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A British Defense Ministry spokeswoman told The Guardian Monday, "We don't have any forces out there."

The al-Jazeera footage emerged as South African President Jacob Zuma arrived in Tripoli in an attempt to broker a cease-fire, hours after NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen of Denmark said Gadhafi's "reign of terror" was coming to an end.

At the same time, eight Libyan army officers, including five generals, appeared at a Rome news conference arranged by the Italian government, saying they were part of a group of as many as 120 top military officials and soldiers who defected from the Gadhafi regime in recent days.

The generals alleged Libyan forces fighting in cities including Misurata had perpetrated atrocities against civilians.

"There is a lot of killing, genocide ... violence against women," an officer who identified himself as Gen. Oun Ali Oun said. "No wise, rational person with the minimum of dignity can do what we saw with our eyes and what [Gadhafi] asked us to do."

Another officer, Gen. Melud Massoud Halasa, said Gadhafi's forces were "only 20 percent as effective" as they had been before the revolt broke out in February.

Libyan officials initially said Monday Zuma's Gadhafi meeting, under the auspices of the 53-nation African Union, would offer a breakthrough in the fighting. But 6 hours of talks brought no progress, officials including Zuma said later.

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Gadhafi continued to reject demands he abandon power and seek exile outside Libya, officials said. The demand -- set by rebel leaders and backed by NATO countries -- was joined last week by Russia, long considered a Gadhafi ally.

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