NATO aircraft attack Gaddafi’s navy in Tripoli, Al Khums and Sirte

Fire on a boat in Tripoli after NATO air strikes targeted the port of the Libyan capital, May 19, 2011.

From NATO:  NATO and coalition air assets continued their precision airstrikes against pro-Qadhafi regime forces overnight with a coordinated strike against pro-Qadhafi forces in the ports of Tripoli, Al Khums and Sirte.

Overnight, NATO aircraft hit pro-Qadhafi warships, striking eight vessels.

“All NATO’s targets are military in nature and are directly linked to the Qadhafi regime’s systematic attacks on the Libyan people,” said Rear-Admiral Russell Harding, Deputy Commander Operation Unified Protector. “Given the escalating use of naval assets, NATO had no choice but to take decisive action to protect the civilian population of Libya and NATO forces at sea,” he further added.

Over the past couple of weeks we have witnessed indiscriminate mining and the escalating use of force by pro-Qadhafi maritime forces. This has directly disrupted the safe flow of desperately needed humanitarian assistance and put NATO forces at risk. This development of pro-Qadhafi tactics has also demonstrated a clear intent to attack NATO forces.

Last night, NATO took deliberate action in carefully planned and coordinated responses to demonstrate our resolve to protect the civilian population of Libya, using appropriate and proportionate force. “All the vessels targeted last night were naval warships with no civilian utility,” said Rear-Admiral Harding.

On April 29th, pro-Qadhafi forces used pro-Qadhafi maritime assets to mine the entrance to the port of Misrata. On a further three occasions, pro-Qadhafi maritime assets have been intercepted by NATO ships. This included an incident where NATO interdicted a booby-trapped vessel leading to the discovery and subsequent destruction of one tonne of explosives at sea.  (photo: Getty)

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