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NATO Regrets Accidental Strike on Libyan Rebels

VOA News April 08, 2011

NATO has confirmed it was responsible for airstrikes that hit Libyan rebel tanks outside the eastern oil city of Brega.

NATO deputy commander Russell Harding told reporters in Brussels on Friday that allied forces had never seen rebels operating tanks before and mistook them for pro-government forces. Rebel leaders say four people died in the strikes.

Harding refused to apologize for the incident, saying the "fluid" situation in Brega made it difficult to distinguish who was operating the vehicles.

Some of the rebels responded by using pink-colored paint on the roofs of their vehicles to distinguish them from the pro-government units.

Brega has gone back and forth between rebel and government control during weeks of fighting, with both sides advancing and retreating.

On Friday, rebels began a new attempt to confront Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi's forces by sending scouts toward the oil town to see whether government troops advanced in the rebel retreat on Thursday.

Fighting was reported in the strategic city Ajdabiya where rebels were maintaining their hold under heavy government fire. Foreign media reports that at least five fighters were killed and more than 20 injured in fighting around the city.

Meantime, United Nations investigators say they will examine human rights violations committed by forces loyal to Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi and by rebel fighters.

War crimes expert Cherif Bassiouni said the three-member commission of inquiry he heads will travel to Libya Sunday and will travel to the east and west before returning at the end of the month.

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

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