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Libya Slams UN General Secretary Over Comments.

Libya has accused UN general secretaru Ban Ki-moon of playing with words, when, a day after urging restraint over "unacceptably" high deaths, he acknowledged NATO efforts to avoid civilian casualties.

Libya's deputy foreign minister Khaled Kaim told reporters early on Saturday that Ban's statement was "unacceptable" for not singling out NATO for "being responsible for civilian deaths in Libya." He added that the only party that must be blamed for the loss of civilian lives is NATO.

On Friday, UN spokesman Farhan Haq told journalists:"The secretary general has consistently called for restraint and caution to avoid civilian casualties. He of course recognises and appreciates NATO's efforts to avoid civilian casualties." In a statement released by his office on Thursday, Ban had sounded the alarm over civilian deaths and called for new efforts to find a political solution between Libyan leader Muammar Al Qathafi and opposition rebels, and without specifically naming any side, Ban called on "all parties" to use "extreme caution" in the battle.

The statement added: "The secretary general is deeply concerned by reports of the unacceptably large number of civilian casualties as a result of the conflict in Libya,' and that Ban "calls on all parties to exercise extreme caution in their actions, in order to minimise any further loss of civilian life." Meanwhile, Kaim on Saturday also denied that almost six months after rising up against the Libyan leader, the rebels had entered the eastern oil hub of Brega.

Backed by NATO helicopters, the rebels, who have tried for the past three weeks to seize the vital port, also vowed that in "a few days" they plan to retake Brega on the Gulf of Sirte.

By late Thursday, after a day of fighting, the rebels said they had taken control of one of three residential zones in Brega, with one of their commanders saying that every day they were gaining ground.

Meanwhile, in their base in Benghazi, on Friday, the rebels buried five "martyrs," including. According to an journalist, the commander of a brigade of volunteer civilians, killed the day before on the front line at Brega.

Before heading back to the front, a lieutenant at the funeral was quoted saying: "Today we are in mourning. Tomorrow we take revenge." On another front, in an effort to end the barrage of missiles hitting the western town almost daily, rebels from Misurata pushed against the regime troops in Tuarga and by day's end had controlled it.

The two sides exchanged artillery fire that reportedly left at least three rebels dead and as many as 30 wounded. Then in a symbolic show of victory after the town's capture, the rebel fighters tore down green flags hoisted by the Al Qathafi supporters who just hours earlier had occupied the area.

The rebels' push forward is aided in no small measure by continuous NATO air strikes , with the alliance's top Libya commander, Lieutenant General Charles Bouchard, saying that the air strikes had affected Al Qathafi's military capabilities, repeating what NATO has been saying for weeks if not months.

Bouchard said that the Al Qathafi regime's forces continue to be weakened, both in strength and their will to fight, and that 'they are no longer able to launch a credible offensive." He also reported "activity" on three fronts - in Brega, Misurata and the Nafusa mountains - adding that Al Qathafi's forces are "shooting blindly on civilians." He maintained: "On the three fronts, we're seeing changes as anti-Al Qathafi forces march forward to stop the attacks on the population." Referring to accusations by the Libyan government last week that NATO killed 85 people, including women and children, with air strikes on the village of Majer, south of Zliten. Bouchard denied denied the claims "I can assure you that the target was a legitimate one that contained mercenaries, a command centre and 4x4 vehicles modified with automatic weapons, rocket launchers or mortars," he said.

Then added: "I cannot believe that 85 civilians were present when we struck in the wee hours of the morning, and given our intelligence" on the target. "I can assure you that there (were not) 85 civilians present, but I cannot assure you that there were none at all."

2011 - The Tripoli Post

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Publication:The Tripoli Post (Tripoli, Libya)
Geographic Code:6LIBY
Date:Aug 13, 2011
Words:711
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