NATO deploys helicopters in Libya

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Tuesday, June 7, 2011

The United Kingdom and France have begun helicopter attacks against Colonel Muammar Gaddafi's military forces in Libya, as part of the NATO campaign to protect civilians. The Apache helicopters were launched from the British ship HMS Ocean and the French assault ship Tonnerre, and attacked a radar installation and a military checkpoint near Brega. Whilst in a separate mission, helicopters destroyed two ammunition bunkers in central Libya.

"The use of attack helicopters provides the NATO operation with additional flexibility to track and engage pro-Gadhafi forces who deliberately target civilians and attempt to hide in populated areas," NATO said in a statement. "NATO's operation is being conducted under the United Nations Security Resolution 1973, which calls for an immediate end to all attacks against civilians and authorized all necessary measures to protect civilians and civilian populated areas under threat of attack in Libya."

The Libyan government has been under international pressure to step down after it had been accused of killing civilians indiscriminately with mortars, snipers, and bombings of suspected rebels in areas like Tripoli and Misrata. The government was also accused last month of using Red Cross Helicopters to evade the no-fly zone enforcement to bomb targets in Misrata.