Europe in mixed reaction over hasty Libya mission

09:13, March 21, 2011      

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Military operations spearheaded by France and Britain against defiant Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi was hailed successful by London and Paris, but some other European countries remained skeptical of the hasty airstrikes and cautioned against a lengthy mission in the oil-rich North African country.

U.S., British and French militaries sprang into action with airstrikes and missile attacks, just days after a UN Security Council greenlighted "all necessary means" to protect civilians and enforce a cease-fire and no-fly zone against Gaddafi's forces.

In a BBC report Sunday, British Defense Secretary Liam Fox said the bombing raids over Libya had so far proved "very successful," and dismissed reports that 48 civilians were killed as a " propaganda exercise."

Fox said he expected the first Arab nation to join the military campaign against Libya within days.

"We are entirely comfortable with the way the operations went last nigh in terms of success," Air Vice Marshal Phil Osborn, the second in command of the Royal Air Force, added in a briefing to reporters in London.

France, meanwhile, reasserted its resolve by sending the Charles de Gaulle carrier, the flagship of the French fleet carrying 2,000 crew and some 20 aircraft, towards Libya on Sunday together with three frigates and refueling tank.

But some other members of the European Union voiced doubts towards their risky military operations.

German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle on Sunday warned that the West risked being dragged into a lengthy mission in Libya, after Berlin abstained on the UN Security Council resolution enabling the use of force.

"It is not because we have some sort of lingering soft spot for Gaddafi's system that we decided not to send German troops to Libya, but because we also have to see the risks of a lengthy mission," Westerwelle told reporters in Berlin.

Despite U.S., British and French military strikes, Gaddafi's troops lashed back on Sunday, shelling rebel-held city of Misrata as Gaddafi vowed a "long, drawn-out war without limits."

"When you begin a military operation, you should not just prepare for the best possible outcome but also for other scenarios that are not so favorable," Westerwelle said.

He said Germany's position on the Libyan crisis is shared among other EU countries, including Poland.

Separately, Cyprus President Demetris Christofias said Sunday that he opposed the use of British military bases on the Mediterranean island for military intervention in Libya.

Christofias said the EU was not unanimous on the Libya issue and the leaders failed to reach a common position at their latest extraordinary meeting.

However, he added that the British bases are sovereign and can be used with just a notice from Britain.

Source: Xinhua

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