Nato 'must widen' Libya targets

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The Independent Online

Nato must broaden its range of bombing targets in Libya or run the risk of stalemate and Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi clinging on to power, Britain's chief of defence staff was quoted as saying on Sunday.

General David Richards suggested Nato should be able to attack Libya's infrastructure, without giving further details.

Nato is bombing Libya under a UN mandate to protect civilians and is restricted to targets such as tanks and artillery.

Richards said the military campaign to date had been a "significant success" for Nato, but it needed to do more.

"If we do not up the ante now there is a risk that the conflict could result in Gaddafi clinging to power," he was quoted in the Sunday Telegraph newspaper as saying.

"At present, Nato is not attacking infrastructure targets in Libya. But if we want to increase the pressure on Gaddafi's regime then we need to give serious consideration to increasing the range of targets we can hit," he told the paper.

Rebels have been fighting for three months against Gaddafi's rule and who control the city of Benghazi and the oil-producing east. The war has reached a virtual stalemate, with recent fighting centred on the port city of Misrata in the west and in the Western Mountains region.

Some Nato members say they will continue until Gaddafi is forced out.

Richards was quoted as saying Nato was not targeting Gaddafi directly, "but if it happened that he was in a command and control centre that was hit by Nato and he was killed, then that is within the rules".

"If Nato withdraws its forces with Gaddafi still in power, then there is a significant risk that he will launch fresh attacks against the rebels," he said.