Gadhafi Thwarting NATO Strikes With Human Shields

NATO says that's why air support has seemed lacking
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 7, 2011 7:43 AM CDT
In this image taken during an organized trip by Libyan authorities, hospital staff stage a pro-Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi demonstration at the Zawiya teaching hospital, April 5, 2011.   (AP Photo/Pier Paolo Cito)
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(Newser) – Libyan rebels have been complaining in recent days about the decline in air support from NATO, but there’s a good reason for it, American and European diplomats tell the Washington Post: Moammar Gadhafi’s forces have positioned themselves in densely populated areas, and NATO doesn’t want to risk hitting civilians. “We have confirmation that in Misrata tanks are being dispersed, being hidden, humans being used as shields in order to prevent NATO sorties to identify targets,” said NATO’s chief of allied operations.

The problem has been exacerbated by the withdrawal of US planes, some of which are particularly good at up-close air support. But even with those planes, diplomats say it would be daunting to hit military targets in such conditions. But in Benghazi, protesters took to the streets to blast NATO for its sudden timidity. “I think they will leave us to face this monster alone,” said one demonstrator.

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