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No US boots on the Libyan ground: US Commander

Last updated: 22 March, 2011
Washington, Mar 22 (PTI) 7:57 IST

There are no American troops on the ground in Libya, a top US commander in charge of the current military operation has said.

"There are no American boots on the ground from this coalition," Gen Carter Ham, Commander of US Africa Command, told Pentagon reporters during a briefing on the operations in Libya.

"I think there are some American citizens who were in Libya who chose not to leave, but no one who's a part of this coalition is on the ground.

I don't know how to be more clear than that: No military boots on the ground," Ham said in response to a question.

He reminded reporters that the US President, Barack Obama, has said that there would be no US troops on the ground in Libya.

Responding to questions about attack on the Gaddafi compound by coalition forces, Ham said it was not an attack on Gaddafi, but on the command and control centre there.

"This is a large compound, maybe 500 or 700 meters by a thousand or more meters -- a pretty big place with lots of different buildings and facilities inside of this compound," he said.

"There are some air-defence systems on the perimeter, security; there's housing; there's normal things mess kind of facilities; and there's also a command-and-control facility that we are certain is a command-and-control facility. We have multiple means that tell us that. That's the facility that was attacked," he said.

"That particular target was decided upon because degrading that command-and-control facility would degrade the regime's ability to control its military forces in the attack of civilians.

So we think there is a very, very direct relationship in the attack on that target and the mission that we have," he said.

Ham reiterated that he has no mission to attack Gaddafi.
"And we are not doing so. We are not seeking his whereabouts or anything like that. We think we have been very effective in degrading his ability to control his regime forces. We think we are seeing that play out at various parts of the country," he said.

The Pentagon commander said that there has been no evidence of Gaddafi receiving any kind of international support.

"I have seen no evidence of that. I think that the United Nations Security Council Resolution speaks for itself, the international community condemning the actions that were ongoing in Libya where the regime was attacking its own citizens. It felt compelled to act. And I've seen no evidence of other nations supporting this current regime, no evidence that I am aware of whatsoever," he said.

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