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LIBYA: Pentagon chief Gates cautions against targeting Kadafi

  U.S. Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates reported success Sunday in imposing a no-fly zone over Libya but cautioned against direct attacks against Libyan leader Moammar Kadafi.

Any attacks that go beyond a U.N. mandate calling for the protection of rebel-held areas and prevention of attacks on civilians risks disrupting the “very diverse coalition” that agreed to the campaign, Gates told reporters en route to Russia, according to CNN.

“This is basically going to have to be resolved by the Libyans themselves,” he was quoted as saying by the Bloomberg news service.

Asked at a Pentagon news briefing about reports of smoke rising from Kadafi’s compound, U.S. Navy Vice Adm. Bill Gortney said the Libyan leader was not being targeted.

Gortney said that he had no indication of civilian casualties, rejecting Libyan claims that international forces had hit a hospital and other civilian targets.

Speaking on CNN’s "State of the Union," Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said that the coalition had destroyed most of Kadafi's air defenses and that the no-fly zone was “effectively in place.”

National security advisor Tom Donilon, briefing reporters in Rio de Janeiro on Sunday night, dismissed claims by the Kadafi regime that it had implemented a cease-fire.

"Our view at this point is that it isn't true or it's been immediately violated,'' Donilon said. "So we'll continue to monitor Kadafi's actions, not just his words.''


IRAN: Resentment toward Kadafi, U.S. yields mixed reactions to Libya attacks

LIBYA: Three more journalists missing

— Alexandra Zavis and Peter Nicholas

Comments () | Archives (24)

Gates cautions against hitting Gaddafi? I have only one question. Which role is he playing , the "good" cop or the "bad" cop?

Gates is probably correct in his assessment, and besides, becoming locked in to three conflicts at once does seem to add too much stress and stretch the military very thin. Still, it would be such lovely payback to put a cruise missile up Qaddafi's posterior.

When the Free Libyan Army launch a counter offensive and the coalition use air power to support we would be in breach of the UN mandate to protect all civilians. At that point the coalition would as France has done acknowledge the Free Libyan Movement as the rightful Government of Libya, then on their request such assistance can be given lawfully without the need for the UN mandate. Other than that when the Free Libyan Army enter urban areas and civilians are killed by collateral damage we would have to fire on the Free Libyan Army under the UN mandate.

As the Pentagon spokesman said if Qaddafi forces approach the Free Libyan Army they will face coalition air power, meaning that when the Free Libyan Army launch a counter offensive Qaddafi forces cannot fight back. This will cause the coalition to fall apart and the UN to criticize their own mandate.

Gates must be wondering what in hell he's doing with the political yahoos all around him. His voice is the only one so far that seems to be aware of what's going on in Libya and the American intervention and possible consequences in a civil war.

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