NATO: Libyan Regime is ‘Crumbling’

"Clearly we

From AFPMoammar Gadhafi’s 42-year rule in Libya is "crumbling," the NATO military alliance said late Aug. 21 as rebels launched a fierce street battle for Tripoli in a final push for victory.

"What we’re seeing tonight is the regime crumbling," NATO spokeswoman Oana Lungescu said. "The sooner Gadhafi realizes there is no way he can win, the better for everyone.

"What you are seeing tonight is the cumulative effect, over time, of the eroded capabilities of the regime," Lungescu said, citing more than 4,000 military targets damaged or destroyed in the last four months. "Clearly we’re into the last stage of the regime – the writing is on the wall. . . .

After rebels claimed "coordinated" action during the capture of a key forest staging post on the road to Tripoli, Lungescu insisted NATO was not actively providing "cover fire" for the rebels – but forces were being scrambled to leap to their defense during resistance.

"We are not taking part in any formal coordination on the ground," she said. "That’s not the mandate – we’re not there to provide immediate assistance, or cover, if you like, yes.

"Obviously, though, we do track what’s happening on the ground – and if we see tanks or other equipment going out to attack, we fire," she said of the rebels’ aerial umbrella.  (photo: Reuters)

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