Reuters & Sky News – 2011-04-22 02:07:32
US to Use Armed Predator Drones in Libya, Gates Says
Reuters & Jerusalem Post
WASHINGTON (April 21, 2011) — The United States is starting to use armed Predator drones in Libya to target Muammar Gaddafi’s forces after US President Barack Obama approved their use, Defense Secretary Robert Gates said on Thursday.
The unmanned aircraft, already used to target militants along Pakistan’s border with Afghanistan, will allow for more precise attacks against Gaddafi’s forces, Gates told a news conference.
“He (Obama) has approved the use of armed Predators,” Gates said.
Armed US Drones To Start Libya Missions
Armed US Predator drones will start missions in Libya as rebels
LONDON (April 21, 2011) — US President Barack Obama has given the go-ahead to use the unmanned aircraft which have already seen action in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iraq.
Marine General James Cartwright, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said the drones can help counteract Gaddafi forces’ tactic of travelling in civilian vehicles. “What they will bring that is unique to the conflict is their ability to get down lower, therefore to be able to get better visibility on targets that have started to dig themselves into defensive positions. They are uniquely suited for urban areas.”
It comes as Libyan rebels claimed the capture of the Wazin border crossing following fighting outside the desert town of Nalut — about 140 miles southwest of the capital Tripoli. Rebel leaders and witnesses said at least 13 Libyan military officers, including two commanders, fled across the border.
A doctor with Tunisia’s Red Crescent said the border post was in rebel hands and relief officials fear it could lead to a new wave of refugees. “The main worry now is an influx of families fleeing the fighting in Libya,” Dr Mongi Slim said. “Before, when the post was under the control of the pro-Gaddafi forces, people had been crossing on little paths. But now it will be much easier.”
But Sky’s Tom Rayner, reporting from Tripoli, said Gaddafi’s Government had denied these claims. “They claim the rebels have control of the Tunisian side of the border, but they [the Government] have control of the Libyan side.”
Meanwhile a passenger ferry carrying about 1,000 people fleeing the western city of Misratah has arrived in Benghazi. Also aboard the vessel are the bodies of British Oscar-nominated photographer and filmmaker Tim Hetherington and Getty photographer Chris Holdros.
They were killed on Wednesday in an attack that also injured two other photographers. A statement from Mr Hetherington’s family said he was killed by a rocket-propelled grenade. It comes as the Ministry of Defence said NATO was now targeting most of its air effort on the besieged city because of what it called the “grievous situation” for the civilian population.
Rebels appear to be gaining more international support, including plans by Italy, France and Britain to send combat advisers and other nations pledging communications and other equipment under the NATO mission. But Col Gaddafi’s regime hit back with fierce threats if the alliance sends any troops to Libya.
“If NATO comes to Misratah, or any Libyan city, we will unleash hell upon NATO,” Government spokesman Moussa Ibrahim said. “We will be a ball of fire. Libya will become one man, one woman, fighting for freedom. We will make it 10 times as bad as Iraq.”
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