Air raids target pro government volunteer fighters. Attack helicopters join battle
May 23, 2011 –New York
By Rawlinsview with Press Agencies.
By all reports the aerial bombardment of Tripoli and of fighters loyal to the Libyan government has intensified with the prior pretenses of the western powers playing a “limited role” in the Libyan conflict already dropped.
In a sign of increasing competition between the various imperial forces involved it appears that British attack helicopters being transported to the battle zone are not necessarily acting under the NATO unified command.
In an article titled “Deadly Nato raid rocks Tripoli” AFP reported the following
Powerful explosions from a deadly NATO raid shook the Libyan capital Tripoli early Tuesday, killing at least three people and wounding another 150, a government spokesman said.
Mussa Ibrahim told reporters that NATO had carried out “between 12 and 18 raids on a barracks of the people’s guard,” volunteer units who back up the army, and that most of the victims were civilians living nearby.
Meanwhile the Los Angeles Times reported the following
According to the French daily newspaper Le Figaro, the French warship Tonnerre left southern France on May 17 with 12 helicopters on board. Britain’s Guardian newspaper reported that additional helicopters would be based on the Royal Navy amphibious assault ship Ocean. Britain’s Sky News reported that the government would send 12 helicopters for the Libyan campaign.
Officials with the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, which took over control of the West’s overall mission in late March, said they were aware that France had deployed a ship carrying attack helicopters but that the aircraft were not under the alliance’s command.
“At this stage, we have heard that they have got a ship with helicopters in the Mediterranean,” said a NATO spokesman. “They’re not part of us.”
The French and British may plan to conduct their own operations using attack helicopters in Libya, separate from the daily airstrikes carried out by fighter jets and U.S. Predator drones under NATO command.
In London, British Foreign Secretary William Hague declined to comment, while U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said of the reported French action: “We would welcome any further commitments they might make.”