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Gaddafi continues attacks, allies uncertain

The allied air strikes against the Libyan regime have caused significant damages to Moammar Gaddafi’s military but were apparently not enough to put an end to intense attacks against towns that continue to take heavy shelling.

Incoming reports show that the most intense fighting is currently in Misrata, with local sources reporting on several civilian casualties and heavy shelling targeted at the city. Gaddafi’s forces have been stationed around the town for days with - as an opposition leader said from the town - the obvious intent to “flatten” it. The situation of the rebels there is “tragic”, a doctor told BBC.

The early waves of the western attack have decimated around half of the Libyan air force and also destroyed ground forces. The allies also suffered their first losses as an American F-15 fighter crashed. The following reports said the event was most likely caused by a mechanical failure opposed to anti-aircraft gunning. Its pilots ejected and were rescued.

International criticism of the campaign is also spreading, mostly because the intervening countries have yet to clearly define what their actual target is. Diplomats have repeatedly stated that removing Gaddafi from power is not among the mission’s objectives. But the lack of clarity has sparked critique from Russia, China and Brazil.

Tensions are also running high among NATO members, who are still “days” away from deciding which country will take operational control of the campaign once the US, as promised at the start of the bombings, would soon relinquish its leading role. In particular, Turkey is proving an obstacle having adopted a firm stance against the actual attacks opposed to the initially declared goal of enforcing a no-fly zone and protecting civilian targets.

The intervention is also evoking protests from other African nations, which object to the “double standard” enforced by the west in intervening in Libya, but not in other nations where similar anti-establishment protests and fighting is underway.