April 10, 2011

Air Power Not Enough To Remove Gaddafi

Libyan government forces tried to storm into the besieged city of Misrata on Friday as NATO generals acknowledged their air power was not enough to help insurgents remove Muammar Gaddafi by force alone.

Misrata, a lone rebel outpost in the west of the country, has been under siege by Gaddafi's forces for weeks. On Friday insurgents said government troops were advancing into eastern districts and fighting street battles with rebels.

"They tried to advance and enter the city from the eastern side, from an area called Eqseer which is a populated area. The rebels confronted them and clashes are continuing," insurgent spokesman Hassan al-Misrati told newsmen. The only active front in the war, along the Mediterranean coast around the eastern cities of Brega and Ajdabiyah, has descended into stalemate for a week with both sides making advances and then retreating behind secure lines at night.

The head of US Africa Command, General Carter Ham, said on Thursday the conflict was entering stalemate and it was very unlikely the rebels would be able to fight their way into Tripoli to overthrow Gaddafi.

Early hopes that Western air cover and attacks on Gaddafi forces would tip the balance in favour of the rebels have evaporated as government troops sheltered their mechanized forces near civilian areas which NATO fears attacking.

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