No NATO Apology Over Airstrike Mistake
The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) refused Friday to cave in to pressure from Libyan rebels, who demanded an apology from allied forces after an opposition rebel tank was accidentally hit Thursday during a routine air raid.
NATO operation deputy commander Rear Adm. Russell Harding of the British Royal Navy said on Friday that the allied forces were not apologizing for the airstrike, which, according to witnesses, killed at least two rebels and a couple of doctors. The airstrike was carried out Thursday in the town of al-Brega, an oil-producing area whose control has change hands several times since the war in Libya started. “The situation on the ground is fluid and we had no information the opposition forces were using tanks,” Harding said as he tried to justify the second mistaken airstrike committed in the same town by NATO forces in as many weeks.
NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen also admitted the mistake, but quickly assured that protecting civilians remain the utmost aim of the foreign military. “We are conducting operations in Libya in accordance with the U.N. Security Council Resolution with the aim to protect civilians,” Rasmussen said. “This is also the reason why our aircraft target military equipment that could be used to attack civilians, but I can assure you that we do our utmost to avoid civilian casualties,” he said.