15 APR 2011
By Valentina Pop
EUOBSERVER / BRUSSELS - Nato needs more fighter jets to protect Libyan civilians from Gaddafi's continued attacks, the alliance's secretary general Anders Fogh Rasmussen told Nato foreign ministers in Berlin on Thursday (14 April), as the humanitarian situation in rebel-held cities continues to worsen.
"To avoid civilian casualties we need very sophisticated equipment so we need a few more precision fighter ground attack aircraft for air to ground missions," Rasmussen said during a press conference at the end of the Berlin meeting.
He cited a briefing given to Nato ministers by the alliance's top commander James Stavridis, who noted that Gaddafi forces are changing tactics and hiding heavy arms in populated areas, which makes it more difficult for allied forces to target and destroy them.
Rasmussen admitted that while ministers agreed in general to continue their support for mission Unified Protector, he did not get "specific pledges or promises" for more fighter jets. "But I heard indications that give me hope. And by nature I'm an optimist," he added.
France and Britain have in recent days called on their Nato allies to step up their contributions to the mission, as Gaddafi forces continue to strike the city of Misrata, where hundreds of civilians are feared to have been killed in the six-week long siege.
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