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Monday, March 21, 2011

Arab League criticises Libyan air raids

Arab League
Libya News Updates! Arab League head Amr Moussa has said he wants a rethink on air raids on Libya after what he calls 'the bombardment of civilians'.

India has become the latest member of the international community to speak out against the air strikes in Libya.

India abstained from last week's UN Security Council vote and today said it regrets the coalition attacks.

This follows comments by the head of the Arab League. After initially calling for the UN to bring in a no-fly zone, Amr Moussa criticised what he called "the bombardment of civilians".

Steve Cannane reports.

STEVE CANNANE, REPORTER: At a cemetery on the outskirts of Tripoli, hundreds of Libyan men gather to mourn and protest. Government officials claim this is the funeral of a civilian killed by coalition air strikes.

LIBYAN MAN: It is very, very sad for France and United Kingdom because to kill, to kill, kill many mans for to war, why?

STEVE CANNANE: The head of the Arab League has condemned the strikes, saying they were not a part of the no-fly zone that they had called for.

AMR MOUSSA, ARAB LEAGUE SECRETARY GENERAL: What happened differs from the no-fly zone objectives. What we want is the protection of civilians. Protection, not shelling more civilians.

STEVE CANNANE: Amr Moussa has since clarified his comments, saying he still supports the UN resolution and will continue to work to protect civilians.

Support from the Arab League was critical in convincing other nations to back a no-fly zone.

The coalition insists it's acting within the parameters of the UN resolution.

LIAM FOX, UK DEFENCE SECRETARY: We're using some very specific types of weaponry designed to minimise, obviously, any civilian casualties or other collateral damage. Of course we're extremely careful in that targeting process. Today we'll make a better assessment of where that is. If necessary we will carry out further attacks to ensure that the regime cannot carry out the sort of attacks that we've seen in recent days on their people.

STEVE CANNANE: Visiting Brazil, the US president avoided any direct comment on the mission in Libya.

BARACK OBAMA, US PRESIDENT: We've seen the people of Libya take a courageous stand against a regime determined to brutalize its own citizens. Across the region, we've seen young people rise up.

STEVE CANNANE: But it won't be the US taking the lead to help them. That responsibility is likely to fall on Europe.

ROBERT GATES, US SECRETARY OF DEFENCE: And then we expected in a matter of days to be able to turn over the primary responsibility to others. We will continue to support the coalition. We will be a member of the coalition. We will have a military role in the coalition, but we will not have the pre-eminent role.

STEVE CANNANE: It seems the US does not have the appetite to lead another campaign with no end in sight.

MIKE MULLEN, CHAIRMAN, US JOINT CHIEFS OF STAFF: In terms of - the mission is very clear. Right now, it's to focus on getting this no-fly zone in place and to support the UN objectives of no humanitarian crisis and humanitarian support. Protecting Libyan civilians.

JOURNALIST: So, it's possible that we could have, like Iraq, a 12 year no-fly zone with the strongman still in place?

MIKE MULLEN: Well, again, I think circumstances will drive where this goes in the future. I wouldn't speculate in terms of length at this particular point in time.

STEVE CANNANE: But at this early stage, coalition forces believe the no-fly zone is working.

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