It is U.S. policy that Gaddafi needs to go: Obama

08:47, March 22, 2011      

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Western coalition forces bombarded Libya for a third straight night Monday, targeting the air defenses and forces of Libyan ruler Moammar Ghadafi. The new round of air strikes smashed a column of tanks near eastern Benghazi.

And Monday, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said that a United Nations resolution authorizing military action in Libya resembled "medieval calls for crusades."

The air campaign by U.S. and its European allies rescued local rebels from the immediate threat they faced days ago of being crushed under a powerful advance by Gadhafi's forces.

U.S. President Barack Obama said Monday that "it is U.S. policy that Gadhafi has to go." But, he said, the international air campaign has a more limited goal, to protect civilians.

"Our military action is in support of an international mandate from the U.N. Security Council that specifically focuses on the humanitarian threat posed by Col. Gadhafi to his people," Obama said on a visit to Chile.

As diplomatic tempers over the campaign flared, officials in Tripoli said a missile intended to kill Moammar Gadhafi on Sunday had destroyed a building in his fortified compound, which was bombed in 1986 by the Reagan administration.

"It was a barbaric bombing," said government spokesman Mussa Ibrahim, showing pieces of shrapnel that he said came from the missile. "This contradicts American and Western statementsthat it is not their target to attack this place."

On Libyan television on Sunday, Gadhafi promised his enemies a "long war" after the US-led military intervention into Libya.

"The resolution is defective and flawed," said Putin, whose country did not use its power to veto the resolution at the UN. "It allows everything. It resembles medieval calls for crusades," Putin added.

Meanwhile, rebel forces in Libya welcomes Western air strikes that helped them.

"The committee rejects foreign troops on the ground but we encourage the bombardment of Gadhafi's army," Ahmed El-Hasi, a spokesman for the February 17 opposition coalition, said in the eastern rebel stronghold of Benghazi where the uprising began.

The first strikes on Saturday halted the advance of Gadhafi forces on Benghazi and targeted Libya's air defenses in order to let Western warplanes patrol the skies of Libya.

The second wave of Western airstrikes also hit Gadhafi's troops around Ajdabiyah, a strategic town in the barren scrub of east Libya that rebels aim to retake.

The United States, carrying out the airstrikes in a coalition with Britain, France, Italy and Canada among others, said the campaign was working and dismissed a ceasefire announcement by the Libyan military.

By People's Daily Online / Agencies
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