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No plans for 'NATO ground presence' in Libya

RIA Novosti

18:30 28/03/2011 MOSCOW, March 28 (RIA Novosti Alexander Stelliferovsky) - No foreign troops will be deployed and there will be no NATO presence on the ground in Libya, NATO Spokesperson Oana Lungescu said Monday.

"There is going to be no [NATO] presence on the ground... There is going to be no foreign military intervention on the ground," she said in Brussels.

"The future of Libya is in the hands of the Libyans," she said.

What happens to the country's leadership is up the Libyan people to decide - "it's not for us to decide."

As for the implementation of the UN Security Council resolution, it refers to protecting civilians against all attacks and NATO will apply that resolution in an impartial way, Lungescu said.

There has been widespread speculation about a ground operation with a high-ranking Russian intelligence service source suggesting on Friday that the international coalition force is planning a ground operation in Libya that could start in late April.

On Sunday, NATO began taking command of all aerial operations in Libya from the US-led force. The transfer of authority will take up to three days.

The UN Security Council resolution adopted on March 17 imposed a no-fly zone over Libya and measures to protect civilians from Gaddafi's forces.

Western-led military strikes against Gaddafi, whose forces have been attacking rebels in the east of the North African country since mid-February, began last Saturday.

Libyan television has reported that at least 100 civilians have been killed and over 150 wounded in the strikes and that many health and education facilities have been destroyed. Coalition commanders deny this.

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