Collapse of Gaddafi’s defenses startles NATO

Libyan rebels driving through Tripoli, August 21, 2011

From Michael Birnbaum, the Washington Post:  As rebels in Libya continued to establish their control of Tripoli on Monday, senior NATO officials they were startled by the speed with which Moammar Gaddafi’s defenses have collapsed. The North Atlantic Council planned to meet later this week to discuss what to do next and what role it might play in a post-Gaddafi Libya, a NATO official in Brussels said. . . .

NATO officials said rebel advances in Zawiyah, a key oil refinery town 27 miles west of Tripoli, had pushed government forces out into the open back toward the capital, and that Gaddafi’s army also had been forced to resume using heavy armament such as tanks that are easy targets for airstrikes. For much of the last several months, government troops had been using light pickup trucks with machine guns mounted to their beds, similar to the vehicles used by the rebels, as a way of blending in and avoiding airstrikes.

“We strike whatever heavy equipment we see,” the NATO official in Brussels said. “We can’t take the chance” that it would later be used against civilians, he said.  (photo: Getty)

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