Area near Gaddafi compound struck in raid

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The Independent Online

NATO pounded the area near Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi's compound again before dawn today, rattling windows in the heart of the capital with thunderous booms as smoke rose from the vicinity.

It was not clear what was hit, and there was no word on casualties. Government officials did not immediately comment on the strike. NATO warplanes have repeatedly targeted the area in and around the Bab al-Aziziya compound.



NATO launched its air campaign nearly three months ago under a United Nations resolution to protect civilians. What started as a peaceful uprising inside the country against Gaddafi and his more than four-decade rule has become a civil war.



Poorly equipped and trained rebel fighters have taken control of the eastern third of Libya and pockets of the west. The fighting had reached a stalemate until last week when NATO launched the heaviest bombardment of Gaddafi forces since the alliance took control of the skies over Libya.



NATO has been pounding Gaddafi's military and government positions with increasing vigor and the rebels are again on the move.



Tunisian army official Mokhtar Ben Nasr said the number of Libyans fleeing has mounted in recent days, with 6,330 Libyan refugees crossing into Tunisia earlier this week. Dozens of Libyan soldiers also have defected to Tunisia by boat, the state news agency there reported Wednesday.



Britain's prime minister has said that time is running out for Gaddafi's forces, even as some senior military leaders within NATO have voiced concerns that the mission is straining the alliance's resources.



"Time is on our side," British Prime Minister David Cameron told lawmakers Wednesday. "We have got NATO, we've got the United Nations, we've got the Arab League, we have right on our side. The pressure is building militarily, diplomatically, politically, and time is running out for Gaddafi."



In Washington, the White House insisted Wednesday that President Barack Obama has the authority to continue U.S. military action in Libya even without authorization from lawmakers in Congress.



Its 32-page report to Congress argues that because the US has a limited, supporting role in the NATO-led bombing campaign in Libya and American forces are not engaged in sustained fighting, the president is within his constitutional rights to direct the mission on his own.



But the report appeared to do little to quell congressional criticism. A spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, said the White House was using "creative arguments" that raised additional questions.

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