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Press briefing on Libya by the NATO Spokesperson and Brigadier General Mark van Uhm, Chief of Allied Operations, Allied Command Operations (SHAPE)

NATO - North Atlantic Treaty Organisation

19 Apr. 2011

Good afternoon and welcome to NATO headquarters.

It's now just over a month since the UN Security Council passed Resolution 1973, calling on the international community to take all necessary action to protect civilians in Libya. NATO has been in full command of operations to enforce that historic resolution for almost three weeks. And we are fulfilling our UN mandate.

NATO has kept up a high operational tempo. Allied aircraft have flown well over 2, 800 missions -- an average of just over 1,000 a week. Almost half of them strikes. We have struck a broad range of targets -- tanks and rocket launchers, armoured vehicles and ammunition sites. We are keeping up the pressure on the Gaddafi regime forces to stop their brutal onslaught against civilians. It's a challenging task -- but we are making significant progress in weakening Gaddafi's ability to use his military machine against his own people.

That operational tempo has been matched by a high political tempo. Last week, as you know, NATO foreign ministers met in Berlin with our operational partners and reinforced the political impetus behind Operation Unified Protector. They re-stated full support for the mission. They committed to providing all the resources needed to do the job. And they agreed that they will do so until all attacks on civilians have stopped; until all of Gaddafi's forces, including his snipers, mercenaries and paramilitary forces have returned to bases; and until there is full, safe and unhindered humanitarian access to all people in need of assistance.

There was also wide consensus on the role of the Contact Group in finding a political solution to the crisis. The ministers strongly endorsed the outcome of the first meeting of the Contact Group in Doha, in particular the call for Gaddafi to leave power. And they stressed the need to continue to coordinate closely with other international actors. As you know, the EU was represented in Berlin by the High Representative Cathy Ashton and her staff.

So NATO and its partners are united, we are determined, and we are focused. We are doing what the UN has mandated -- and we will continue to do so, for as long as it takes.

I will now hand over to General Mark Van Uhm, the Director of the Strategic Operations Centre SHAPE, who will give you a more detailed picture of recent operations, in Misrata and acrosss Libya.

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