Libya

RAF planes destroy Libyan ammunition dumps

RAF warplanes today destroyed ammunition dumps being used by Muammar Gaddafi's regime to attack the opposition-held city of Misrata, the Ministry of Defence announced.

Tornado GR4 jets flew from RAF Marham in Norfolk on strike missions against bunkers in the Sabha area of the desert in southern Libya in the early hours of the morning.



The planes used Storm Shadow missiles to destroy the bunkers, which contained ammunition intended for use in attacks on Misrata and other northern cities, said the MoD.



The mission followed armed reconnaissance sorties over Libya during the weekend during which RAF Tornados hit a total of 22 tanks, armoured vehicles and artillery pieces in the vicinity of Misrata and Ajdabiya, said the Chief of Defence Staff's Major General John Lorimer.



Maj Gen Lorimer added: "Following the retreat of Colonel Gaddafi's forces from most of the coastal towns east of Sirte, RAF Tornados have joined other coalition aircraft patrolling over Misrata where, despite significant losses as a result of air strikes, the regime continues to mount attacks on the town.



"During the early hours of this morning, Tornado GR4 aircraft conducted strike missions against Libyan ammunition bunkers in the Sabha area in the southern Libya desert. Tornado GR4 aircraft flew from RAF Marham and were refuelled en route by Tristar tanker aircraft from RAF Brize Norton.



"Storm Shadow missiles were launched against ammunition bunkers used to re-supply Libyan government troops attacking civilians in the north of the country, including Misrata.



"Initial reports suggest that the bunkers have been destroyed and that the Libyan government has been denied ammunition it uses to threaten civilians in the north of the country."

















Rebel forces were today celebrating the seizure of the key oil towns of Brega and Ras Lanuf, potentially giving them control of much of Libya's export capacity.



However, there was doubt over claims that the opposition had also seized the city of Sirte, Col Gaddafi's birthplace and a stronghold of the regime.



The rebels' sweep westwards towards the capital, Tripoli, has been assisted by coalition air strikes targeting regime tanks and armoured vehicles, but has sparked allegations from Gaddafi loyalists that the international forces are effectively acting as air cover for revolutionary forces.



Nato Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen denied today that the alliance was co-ordinating its military action with the Libyan opposition, and warned that commanders in the field were authorised to take action to protect civilians from rebels as well as from Col Gaddafi's forces.



Prime Minister David Cameron will update MPs on the latest situation in Libya in an oral statement to the House of Commons later today.



Mr Cameron chaired a meeting of the National Security Council's Libya sub-committee this morning to take stock of the situation on the ground and prepare for tomorrow's London conference.



The conference will bring together delegations from more than 40 countries, as well as United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, to discuss the implementation of Security Council resolutions on Libya; preparations for any humanitarian emergency in the country; post-conflict stabilisation; and the political way forward to allow the Libyan people to move to a more open and democratic government.



The PM's official spokesman was unable to confirm whether any representatives of the Libyan opposition would be present, but said it was not the purpose of the conference to choose leaders for a post-Gaddafi government in Tripoli.



"We have always been very clear that what follows should be a matter for the Libyan people, not for us or for any other country, to decide," he told reporters at a Westminster briefing.



"It is not for us to identify the future government of Libya."



Today's attacks came after Nato agreed to take command of all international military operations over Libya, including air strikes on Col Gaddafi's ground forces.



The agreement by alliance ambassadors, meeting last night in Brussels, paves the way for the United States to relinquish its temporary leadership of the operation, ending days of diplomatic wrangling.



Nato had previously agreed to take charge of enforcing the United Nations no-fly zone and arms embargo.



However some member states - notably Turkey and Germany - had baulked at taking on the air strikes as well because of the risk of civilian casualties.



Mr Rasmussen said it was a "very significant step" by the alliance.



"Our goal is to protect civilians and civilian-populated areas under threat of attack from the Gaddafi regime. Nato will implement all aspects of the UN resolution. Nothing more, nothing less," he said.



Asked on the BBC Radio 4 Today programme whether Nato would intervene militarily to prevent attacks on civilians by rebels, he replied: "It is a hypothetical question, because until now it is the Gaddafi forces that have attacked civilians, but our obligation is to ensure full implementation of the UN Security Council resolution and protect civilians against all attacks.



"I don't think the rebels will attack civilians. If so, we have to protect civilians against attack.



"Those who attack civilians will also be our targets, but I have to stress that until now it is the Gaddafi regime that has attacked its own people."



Mr Rasmussen declined to reveal the exact terms of the rules of engagement in Libya or to estimate how long the current operations may take.



"It is premature to lay out any timetable, but I hope to see a peaceful resolution to the problems in Libya as soon as possible," he said.



"Clearly, there is no military solution solely. It is for the Libyan people to decide what should be the future of Libya."



Asked whether Libya could become "another Iraq or Afghanistan", causing instability across the region, he replied: "We should definitely avoid that. This is the reason why I would strongly urge all parties involved to find a peaceful and political solution as soon as possible."



Russia warned today that attacks on Col Gaddafi's forces on the ground amounted to intervention in a civil war and were not backed by the UN resolution authorising a no-fly zone.



And Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan told The Guardian that his country was prepared to act as mediator to broker an early ceasefire in Libya, warning that a lengthy conflict risked turning the north African state into a second Iraq.



Mr Cameron's spokesman said: "We want to see a ceasefire, but we want to see a genuine ceasefire."



Nato's assumption of command and control responsibilities would "strengthen the position politically", said the spokesman.



Asked whether the coalition would protect civilians against attack by rebel forces as well as those of the Gaddafi regime, Mr Cameron's spokesman said: "The Prime Minister has made clear that everything we do needs to be consistent with the UN Security Council resolution.



"The Security Council resolution talks about protecting civilians and that means all civilians. The context is that there were peaceful protests going on in Libya and they were brutally put down by the Gaddafi regime."









In a joint statement issued ahead of tomorrow's conference, Mr Cameron and French President Nicolas Sarkozy said that the event would allow the international community to "come together to support a new beginning for Libya.



"A new beginning in which the people of Libya are free from violence and oppression, free to choose their own future".



The coalition's action to break the siege of Benghazi and drive back Gaddafi's forces had rescued hundreds of thousands of people "from the brink of humanitarian disaster", they said.



Mr Cameron and Mr Sarkozy added: "Our countries are resolved to continue to enforce UN Security Council Resolution 1973 to protect the people of Libya. More countries from Europe and the Arab world are joining us.



"It is only when the civilian population are safe and secure from the threat of attack and the objectives of UNSCR 1973 are met that military operations will come to an end.



"We emphasise that we do not envisage any military occupation of Libya, which would be contrary to the terms of the Resolution. We reaffirm our strong commitment to the sovereignty, independence, territorial integrity and national unity of Libya."



The two leaders stressed that military action was not an objective in itself and that a lasting solution can only be reached through a political process involving the Libyan people.



"That is why the political process that will begin tomorrow in London is so important," they said. "The London Conference will bring the international community together to support Libya's transition from violent dictatorship and to help create the conditions where the people of Libya can choose their own future."



The current regime has "completely lost its legitimacy" and Gaddafi must "go immediately", said Cameron and Sarkozy.



"We call on all his followers to leave him before it is too late. We call on all Libyans who believe that Gaddafi is leading Libya into a disaster to take the initiative now to organise a transition process.



"In our view, this could include the Interim National Transitional Council, the pioneering role of which we recognise, the civil society leaders as well as all those prepared to join the process of transition to democracy. We encourage them to begin a national political dialogue, leading to a representative process of transition, constitutional reform and preparation for free and fair elections."



Tomorrow's conference will also discuss how to avoid a humanitarian crisis in Libya by delivering urgent relief now and supporting the needs of the Libyan people in the longer term, said the two leaders.



"In the last few weeks, the Libyan people have demonstrated their courage and their determination. Like all other peoples, they have the right freely to choose their leaders," said Mr Cameron and Mr Sarkozy.



"We must unite to help them make a new beginning."

News
A model of a Neanderthal man on display at the National Museum of Prehistory in Dordogne, France
science
News
Richard Dawkins dedicated his book 'The Greatest Show on Earth' to Josh Timonen
newsThat's Richard Dawkins on babies with Down Syndrome
Arts and Entertainment
Eye of the beholder? 'Concrete lasagne' Preston bus station
architectureWhich monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?
Extras
indybest
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Travel
Dinosaurs Unleashed at the Eden Project
travel
Arts and Entertainment
music
Sport
football
Life and Style
This month marks the 20th anniversary of the first online sale
techDespite a host of other online auction sites and fierce competition from Amazon, eBay is still the most popular e-commerce site in the UK
News
i100
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Quantitative Analyst (Financial Services, Graduate, SQL, VBA)

£45000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Quantitative Analyst (Financial Services, ...

Application Support Engineer (C++, .NET, VB, Perl, Bash, SQL)

Negotiable: Harrington Starr: Application Support Engineer (C++, .NET, VB, Per...

C# .NET Software Developer (Client-Side, SQL, VB6, WinForms)

Negotiable: Harrington Starr: C# .NET Software Developer (Client-Side, SQL, VB...

C# Developer (Genetic Algorithms, .NET 4.5, TDD, SQL, AI)

£40000 - £60000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# Developer (...

Day In a Page

Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape
eBay's enduring appeal: Online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce retailer

eBay's enduring appeal

The online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce site
Culture Minister Ed Vaizey: ‘lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird’

'Lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird'

Culture Minister Ed Vaizey calls for immediate action to address the problem
Artist Olafur Eliasson's latest large-scale works are inspired by the paintings of JMW Turner

Magic circles: Artist Olafur Eliasson

Eliasson's works will go alongside a new exhibition of JMW Turner at Tate Britain. He tells Jay Merrick why the paintings of his hero are ripe for reinvention
Josephine Dickinson: 'A cochlear implant helped me to discover a new world of sound'

Josephine Dickinson: 'How I discovered a new world of sound'

After going deaf as a child, musician and poet Josephine Dickinson made do with a hearing aid for five decades. Then she had a cochlear implant - and everything changed
Greggs Google fail: Was the bakery's response to its logo mishap a stroke of marketing genius?

Greggs gives lesson in crisis management

After a mishap with their logo, high street staple Greggs went viral this week. But, as Simon Usborne discovers, their social media response was anything but half baked
Matthew McConaughey has been singing the praises of bumbags (shame he doesn't know how to wear one)

Matthew McConaughey sings the praises of bumbags

Shame he doesn't know how to wear one. Harriet Walker explains the dos and don'ts of fanny packs
7 best quadcopters and drones

Flying fun: 7 best quadcopters and drones

From state of the art devices with stabilised cameras to mini gadgets that can soar around the home, we take some flying objects for a spin
Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

The midfielder returned to the Premier League after two years last weekend. The controversial character had much to discuss after his first game back
Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

British No 1 knows his consistency as well as his fitness needs working on as he prepares for the US Open after a ‘very, very up and down’ year
Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

A descent into madness in America's heartlands

David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home