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UK puts Libya bombing cost at 260 million

IRNA - Islamic Republic News Agency

London, June 23, IRNA -- The British government Thursday revealed that the net additional costs to taxpayers of the military intervention in Libya has run to £260 million, higher than initially predicted.

In a written parliamentary statement, Defence Secretary Liam Fox estimated that the costs for the initial operation for six months would be £120m, while saying the cost of replenishing spent munitions could eventually reach £140m.

The higher than expected costs, which is being paid for by Treasury contingency funds, were attributed to the advanced nature of the weapons used in Libya.

In March, Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne told MPs that the eventual cost of the intervention would be 'in the order of tens of millions of pounds, not hundreds of millions'.

But last month it was estimated that the cost to British taxpayers could reach as much as £1 billion if the bombing campaign continues into the autumn as expected, based on an assessment of the dozens of bombs dropped, hundreds of sorties flown and more than 1,000 service personnel deployed.

While the opposition Labour Party initially backed the intervention, it has pressed for details of expenditure to be revealed amid concern that the cost is escalating.

Prior to his announcement, Fox said people would 'have to take into account that we have used more expensive precision weaponry so that we minimise civilian casualties in Libya'.

'If we are going to fight operations in the future based on minimising civilian casualties, there is clearly a financial price to pay. I think that shows that we are on the moral high ground and that we place a higher value on human life than the Gaddafi regime,' he said.

In the past week, Prime Minister David Cameron has rebuked two military chiefs for raising concern about the sustainability of Britain's military intervention in Libya, insisting the UK's involvement was not under strain.

Air Chief Marshal Simon Bryant warned that the intervention in Libya and the war in Afghanistan was placing “huge demands” on equipment and personnel, while Admiral Sir Mark Stanhope said the navy will not be able to continue the current scale of operations beyond the summer unless tough decisions are made.

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