Post image for NATO airstrikes stymied by new Gaddafi strategy: Human shields

NATO airstrikes stymied by new Gaddafi strategy: Human shields

by Jorge Hernandez on April 7, 2011

The conflict in Libya has been raging for weeks now, with rebels first advancing and then retreating as they wage war against loyalists to Muammar Gaddafi, the dictator who has ruled the country for four decades. 

Now, desperate Gaddafi forces have employed a new tactic that has sent ripples of confusion throughout NATO forces unsure of how to proceed – they are hiding tanks and other artillery within heavily populated areas, according to The Washington Post.

NATO officials have said that, consequently, air strikes have been momentarily deterred. There are fewer clear targets and, even if they are spotted, it is difficult to attack them without inflicting heavy civilian casualties.

"We have confirmation that in Misurata tanks are being dispersed, being hidden, humans being used as shields in order to prevent NATO sorties to identify targets," said Brigadier General Mark van Uhm, NATO’s chief of allied operations, the news source reports.

Some speculate that the U.S. withdrawal – and transferral of command to NATO – has been partially the cause of the problem. Without American air support planes such as the twin-jet A-10 Warthog and AC-130 Spectre gunship, it is harder to spot and deal with the targets.

Still, it seems that, with the help of the Allied forces, the Libyan rebels may still have the upper hand. Gaddafi recently wrote a letter to President Obama, pleading with him to stop the bombings.

"To serving world peace… Friendship between our peoples… and for the sake of economic, and security co-operation against terror, you are in a position to keep NATO off the Libyan affair for good. I am sure you are able to shoulder responsibility for that," he wrote, according to The Australian.

Officials in Washington seemed to be unimpressed by the document, saying that the letter was a fairly predictable move from the dictator.  

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