From David Cenciotti, the Aviationist:  According to a report published in these hours by the UN Commission of inquiry on Libya, the coalition of NATO and non-NATO members, operating within Operation Unified Protector to enforce the UN Security Council resolutions 1970 and 1973, may have violated the law of war in some air strikes that caused the death of civilians.

Nothing comparable to the international crimes, both crimes against humanity and war crimes, committed by Gaddafi forces and including unlawful killing, individual acts of torture and ill-treatment, attacks on civilians using prohibited weapons (cluster munitions and anti-personnel and anti-vehicle landmines), and rape;  nor the “serious violations” committed by the thuwar (anti-Gaddafi forces aka “rebels”), that included unlawful killing, arbitrary arrest, torture, enforced disappearance, indiscriminate attacks, and pillage.

NATO told the Commission that it had a standard of “zero expectation” of death or injury to civilians and that no targets were struck if there was any reason to believe civilians would be injured or killed by a strike.

The vast majority of NATO airstrikes did not cause collateral damages, even where there was a significant potential for civilian harm: for example, on May 24-25 when NATO aircraft struck the Bab-al-Aziziyah facility, the headquarters and residence of Gaddafi in central Tripoli numerous security buildings, located less than 300 meters from civilian apartment buildings, (close enough to be at risk of collateral damage), were destroyed without civilian casualties.

However, “on limited occasions, the Commission confirmed civilian casualties and found targets that showed no evidence of military utility. The Commission was unable to draw conclusions in such instances on the basis of the information provided by NATO and recommends further investigations.”

Indeed the conclusion is:

The Commission found NATO did not deliberately target civilians in Libya. For the few targets struck within population centres, NATO took extensive precautions to ensure civilians were not killed.

However, there were a small number of strikes where NATO’s response to the Commission has not allowed it to draw conclusions on the rationale for, or the circumstances of the attacks. The Commission is unable to conclude, barring additional explanation, whether these strikes are consistent with NATO’s objective to avoid civilian casualties entirely, or whether NATO took all necessary precautions to that effect.

NATO’s characterization of four of five targets where the Commission found civilian casualties as “command and control nodes” or “troop staging areas” is not reflected in evidence at the scene and witness testimony. The Commission is unable to determine, for lack of sufficient information, whether these strikes were based on incorrect or out-dated intelligence and, therefore, whether they were consistent with NATO’s objective to take all necessary precautions to avoid civilian casualties entirely

From AFP:  The International Commission of Inquiry on Libya also found that Moamer Kadhafi’s regime had distorted the number of civilian casualties resulting from the air campaign.

“A number of allegations against Nato investigated by the commission were either exaggerated or a deliberate attempt at misinformation,” the report said.

The commission received “a credible report” of Libyan forces moving the bodies of children from a hospital morgue and bringing them to the site of a Nato airstrike, it added.  (graphic: NATO)