Nato tries to repair Libya cracks

Nato tries to repair Libya cracks

Italy’s ceasefire call exposed the strain on the Nato alliance, nearly 14 weeks into a bombing campaign that has so far failed to dislodge Gadhafi but is causing mounting concerns about its cost and about civilian casualties.

Gadhafi himself sounded a fresh note of defiance with an audio recording, broadcast on Libyan television, in which he called Nato states murderers of innocent civilians and vowed to avenge their deaths.

About Italy’s ceasefire call, Nato Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said in a newspaper interview: “No, on the contrary. We shall continue and see it through to the end.”

“The allies are committed to making the necessary effort for a sustained operation,” he told France’s Le Figaro newspaper.

“We will take the time needed until the military objective is reached: end all attacks against Libyan civilians, return armed forces to barracks and freedom of movement for humanitarian aid.”

Nato says it is operating under a United Nations mandate to protect civilians from Gaddafi's forces as he tries to crush an uprising against his 41-year rule. Gadhafi says Nato’s real aim is to steal oil.

The US, British and French leaders have said they will keep up the pressure until Gadhafi leaves power, but the rebels opposing him have been unable to break through his defences and advance on the capital.

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