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NATO Destroys 8 Libyan Warships

VOA News May 20, 2011

NATO says it has hit eight warships used by forces loyal to Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi in a series of airstrikes.

A NATO statement says the vessels that were targeted were in the ports of Sirte, Al Khums and the Libyan capital, Tripoli.

An alliance official, Libyan operations Deputy Commander Rear Admiral Russell Harding, says NATO had "no choice but to take decisive action" after pro-Gadhafi forces carried out mining operations and escalated their use of maritime force.

Witnesses said they heard explosions and saw smoke rising from Tripoli's seaport from late Thursday into early Friday.

British aircraft went after Al Khums, where a British military spokesman, Major General John Lorimer, said they hit two small warships in the harbor and successfully targeted a facility constructing inflatable boats.

The spokesman said pro-Gadhafi forces have used the boats in efforts to mine the rebel-held city of Misrata and attack vessels in the area.

Earlier Thursday, NATO said its airstrikes had significantly degraded pro-government forces. Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen predicted sustained military and political pressure - along with opposition support - would lead to the collapse of Gadhafi's regime.

In a major speech on the Middle East and North Africa Thursday, U.S. President Barack Obama described the longtime Libyan leader's departure as inevitable.

A Libyan government spokesman said President Obama is "delusional." The spokesman accused the U.S. leader of believing "lies" spread by his own government and media. He said it is not Obama who decides whether Gadhafi leaves, but the Libyan people.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.



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