Benghazi, June 4: Attack helicopters struck Muammar Gaddafi's forces today, NATO said as China made contact with rebels fighting to oust the Libyan leader and Russia prepared to send a peacebroker. As the NATO-led war entered a new phase, explosions rattled Tripoli and US lawmakers chided President Barack Obama for failing to obtain congressional approval for military action in Libya.
“Attack helicopters under NATO command were used for the first time,” the military alliance said in a statement. “The targets struck included military vehicles, military equipment and fielded forces” of the Gaddafi regime, it said, without detailing where the strikes had taken place. British Apache choppers and French Gazelles and Tigres were deployed, the two countries said. The Apaches returned safely to a carrier, Britain's defence ministry said, also without disclosing the targets.
The helicopters destroyed a radar post and a checkpoint near the coastal oil city of Brega in the overnight strikes, according to Britain's domestic news agency PA. The attacks were launched as part of the aerial campaign to protect Libyan civilians from Gaddafi's forces in line with a UN resolution that barred ground troops. British Defence Secretary Liam Fox said the use of the Apaches showed the willingness of the coalition to “keep the pressure up” on Gaddafi.
“We made to Colonel Gaddafi very clear that there is a very quick way to stop the current NATO activity and that's for him to go and stop waging war on his own people,” Fox told journalists at a Singapore security conference. AFP