Libyan rebels ask NATO to continue helping “even after the fighting ends”

NTC Chairman Mustafa Abdul Jalil and Qatar

From Samia Nakhoul And Mohammed Abbas, Reuters:  The leader of Libya’s ruling council asked NATO to pursue its five-month-old air campaign, which has given essential firepower to ragtag rebels who rose against [Muammar] Gaddafi in February.

"I call for continued protection from NATO and its allies from this tyrant," Mustafa Abdel Jalil said in Qatar, a tiny but wealthy Gulf Arab country that has backed the revolt. "He is still a threat, not just for Libyans but for the entire world."

Abdel Jalil, chairman of the National Transitional Council (NTC), was speaking at a meeting of defense ministers from countries that have supported the anti-Gaddafi movement.

A NATO commander pledged to pursue the alliance’s mission, at least until its internal mandate expires on September 27.

"We believe the Gaddafi regime is near collapse, and we’re committed to seeing the operation through to its conclusion," U.S. Admiral Samuel Locklear, who heads NATO’s Joint Operations Command, told a news conference in the Qatari capital, Doha.

"Pockets of pro-Gaddafi forces are being reduced day by day. The regime no longer has the capacity to mount a decisive operation," he said, adding that NATO air raids had destroyed 5,000 military targets in Libya.

NATO warplanes struck at Sirte, on the Mediterranean coast, for a third day on Sunday, a NATO spokesman said in Brussels.

From Ben Hubbard, the AP:  "Gadhafi is still capable of doing something awful in the last moments," Abdul-Jalil told military chiefs of staff and other key defense officials from NATO nations including France, Italy and Turkey.

"Even after the fighting ends, we still need logistical and military support from NATO," he added. NATO has been bombing Gadhafi’s forces since March under a United Nations mandate to protect Libyan civilians.  (photo: Getty)

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