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NATO and Rebel War Crimes in Libya

By Stephen Lendman - Posted on 14 July 2011

Nato and Rebel Atrocities in Libya - by Stephen Lendman

Previous articles discussed:

-- NATO's illegal Libya aggression;

-- American and Western media in the lead cheerleading it; some reporters, in fact, complicit with NATO forces by supplying target coordinates;

-- planning it many months (perhaps years) before fighting began last winter;

-- waging it to conquer, colonize, loot, and balkanize Libya, masquerading as humanitarian intervention;

-- covertly funding, arming and training mercenary insurgents, including Al Qaeda linked Libya Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG) paramilitaries;

-- establishing an illegitimate Transitional National Council (TNC) government with CIA/British Intelligence (SIS/MI6) links;

-- terror bombing Libya daily since March 19, using depleted uranium weapons, cluster bombs and perhaps other illegal weapons;

-- bombing nonmilitary civilian infrastructure, hospitals, schools, heritage sites, a bus with civilians, a hotel, a restaurant, a food storage facility, commercial sites, a university, civilian neighborhoods, fishermen at sea, Gaddafi's personal compound to kill him and his family, as well as other nonmilitary targets;

-- collectively punishing Libyans; in government-controlled areas, the ratio of civilian to military deaths is about 10 to one;

-- blocking shipments of food, fuel and medicine; and

-- overall laying waste to large areas, what Pentagon-led wars always do, destroying countries to save them, never waging wars for humanitarian reasons or even contemplating the idea.

War Rages Unabated

Meanwhile, duplicitous congressional posturing assures pro-war support despite rhetorical opposition against it. In France, despite strong anti-war sentiment, lawmakers just reauthorized French participation, while officials claim a negotiated solution is possible.

According to Prime Minister Francois Fillon, "A political solution in Libya is more indispensable than ever and it is beginning to take shape." Defense Minister Gerard Longuet suggested insurgents negotiate with Gaddafi, drawing Washington's ire for saying it.

Some analysts believe France is looking for a face-saving way out. Parliamentarians, however, just overwhelming endorsed war, voting 482 - 27 in France's lower house and 311 - 24 in its upper one.

Like Obama and Britain's David Cameron, Sarkozy remains committed to press on despite low approval ratings ahead of next May's presidential election. The three main co-belligerents began hostilities to incite rebellion against Gaddafi or kill him. Instead, Libyans strongly support him the way populations usually respond when attacked by foreign powers, rallying behind leaders against them.

As a result, NATO so far is losing, despite last March claiming victory would be swift, Obama notably saying Washington's involvement would be "days, not weeks."

In fact, America remains very much involved, despite diminishing chances of prevailing given Libyans resolve to defend their sovereignty by resisting.

Daily it's evident, especially Fridays after prayer followed by huge pro-Gaddafi rallies, at least twice in Tripoli a million or more turning out in Green Square, raging as well against NATO.

Moreover, Libyans are well armed. Gaddafi made sure everyone has weapons to defend against Western belligerents. Seventy years ago they united and routed Italy. They'll do it again if NATO invades, even at the cost of many lives to live free of foreign occupation.

At the same time, divisions in NATO are evident. Italy called for a halt in bombing. Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi said waging war was a mistake, ending his country's participation and halting air strikes from Italian bases. Norway also pulled out. Perhaps other participants will follow.

Early in the campaign, Germany recalled two frigates and AWACS surveillance Mediterranean flights, but recently agreed to supply munitions.

Cracks in TNC unity are also apparent, noticeably after chairman Mustapha Abdul-Jalil backtracked after saying Gaddafi could stay in Libya if he stepped down. Other TNC members disagreed, spokesman Abdel Hafiz Ghoga claiming that option was never considered.

Despite main co-belligerents pressing on, months of bombing produced stalemate, suggesting new ways of resolving conflict may follow. On July 10, the Algerian newspaper El Khabar quoted Gaddafi's son Saif al-Islam saying, "The truth is that we are negotiating with France and not with the rebels....France said, '(w)hen we reach an agreement with you, we will force (TNC members) to cease fire.' "

On July 11, Le Monde said Sarkozy met with Gaddafi's chief of staff, Bachir Saleh, in June. French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe confirmed that contacts were made, saying "(t)here is a consensus on how to end the crisis, which is that Gaddafi has to leave power. That was absolutely not a given two or three months ago."

In fact, ousting or killing him was intended all along, replacing him with new pro-Western puppet leadership like governments in Iraq and Afghanistan. Anything short of that is defeat, including Washington's grand strategy for Libya as a base for greater North and sub-Saharan African control, using counterproductive tactics not working.

Reporting from Libya, Franklin Lamb reported regular NATO atrocities he witnessed afterwards firsthand, including:

On June 20, NATO attacked Khaled Al-Hamedi's home, killing 15 people in total, including his pregnant wife, three children, and sister. NATO lied calling it a military strike, saying civilians are never attacked. In fact, they're prime targets.

Later in June, a TOW missile hit a public bus, killing all 12 passengers, NATO saying military personnel were being transported. Foreign observers, however, confirmed no military presence. Police secure Libyan cities, neighborhood watch teams suburban areas.

On June 6, central Tripoli's Higher Committee for Children administrative complex was struck with 12 bombs and rockets. Of no military significance, it housed the National Downs Syndrome center, the Crippled Women's Foundation, the Crippled Children Center, and the National Diabetic Research Center. NATO called it a legitimate military target.

On June 16, NATO bombed a central Tripoli hotel and restaurant, killing three civilians. Sirte Central Hospital and the Libyan Lawyers Group representing war victims said attacks caused sharp increases in strokes, diabetes, high blood pressure, miscarriages, and stress-related illnesses, besides bomb-related injuries.

Paramilitary Insurgent Cutthroats

Previous articles discussed rebel paramilitary atrocities, accessed through the following links:

On July 12, New York Times writer CJ Chivers headlined, "Libyan Rebels Accused of Pillage and Beatings," saying:

"Rebels in the mountains in Libya's west have looted and damaged four towns seized since last month," according to Human Rights Watch (HRW). They also "beat people suspected of being loyalists and burned their homes" after ravaging Benghazi and other areas earlier.

On July 13, HRW headlined, "Libya: Opposition Forces Should Protect Civilians and Hospitals," saying:

Instead they're "responsible for looting, arson, and abuse of civilians in recently captured the Nufusa Mountains."

They've "damaged property, burned some homes, looted from hospitals, homes, shops, and beaten some (alleged pro-Gaddafi) supporte(rs)."

HRW representatives witnessed some of these events firsthand, interviewed others about them, and spoke to a rebel commander, asking for accountability. Nonetheless, they continue "indiscriminate attacks on civilian-inhabited areas."

According to HRW's Sarah Leah Whitson:

"Grad rocket attacks are launched almost every day into residential areas with no discernible military target. Why would (they) think there is a purpose to spraying shrapnel into people's homes or mosques and hospitals?"

Rebel military commander Col. El-Moktar Firnana admitted abuses occurred, saying doing so violated orders, whether or not true. Since conflict began last winter, insurgents terrorized Benghazi and other controlled areas - pillaging, raping, brutalizing, and killing suspected anti-NATO residents, especially dark-skinned ones.

On July 7, HRW saw rebels loading looted items on trucks. "Five houses....seen intact the (previous) day (were) on fire." Three more and a shop were burned a few days later, and another six appeared newly burned.

As a result, Al-Awaniya and Zawiyat al-Bagul "appeared empty of residents." Houses on streets HRW visited were ransacked, stores on main streets broken into and looted. One resident said rebels stole medical equipment from a polyclinic. Visiting the facility, HRW saw vandalized rooms, broken windows and doors, as well as "evidence of, including an x-ray machine and possibly an electrocardiogram machine."

Al-Awaniya's hospital was damaged and looted the same way. Well-equipped, a staffer said everything was taken. In Rayaninah, 300 to 400 people stayed behind when rebels arrived. HRW saw evidence of beatings and people shot. Others had wrists tied with dusty wire, then beaten.

Rebel commander Firnana claimed people in the town worked for Gaddafi. "Houses that were robbed and broken into were ones that the army used," he said. "Those people who were beaten were working for Gaddafi's brigades," whether or not true.

HRW quoted "opposition forces say(ing) they are committed to human rights, but the looting, arson, and abuse (raise) concerns about how civilians will be treated if rebels (enter) other towns where the government has support."

Co-belligerents Obama, Cameron and Sarkozy reside far from NATO war zones, including other theaters to satisfy their imperial appetites, no matter how much death and destruction it takes to achieve it.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at

Also visit his blog site at and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.


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