NATO Airstrikes Again Hit Rebels

Libyan government presents evidence of civilian deaths
By Mark Russell,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 19, 2011 6:04 AM CDT
In this photo taken on a government-organized tour, Libyan firefighters and local residents remove debris from a damaged residential building in Tripoli's outskirts, Libya, on Sunday, June 19, 2011.   (AP Photo/Ivan Sekretarev)
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(Newser) – NATO strikes in Libya accidentally hit rebel forces again, for at least the third time since air combat began three months ago, reports the New York Times. The mistaken attack occurred Thursday, with back-and-forth fighting against Gadhafi's forces on three fronts left rebel locations difficult to clearly determine. NATO forces spotted military vehicles and tanks moving in an area in which Gadhafi forces had recently been spotted. "In a particularly complex and fluid battle scenario, it was assessed these vehicles were a threat to civilians," said NATO in a statement yesterday.

Rebels complained that NATO had been telling them to hold back in from the battlefront in Zlitan because of incoming air attacks, but the NATO attacks never came in that location, slowing the rebel advance. “If it wasn’t for NATO, we could have moved the combat line much further from Misurata,” said a rebel spokesman. Meanwhile, a government spokesman showed reporters in Tripoli dead bodies in a house that they and neighbors say had been hit by a NATO air attack; it was the first time since the airstrikes began, notes the Times, that the Libyan government showed credible evidence of direct civilian casualties from NATO attacks.

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