Sunday

26th May 2019

Nato admits civilian casualties in Libya

  • Nato has little intelligence from the ground in Libya (Photo: nasa.org)

Nato on Sunday (19 June) admitted its first major airstrike blunder causing civilian casualties in the four-month long Libyan campaign against Moammar Gaddafi.

"Nato regrets the loss of innocent civilian lives and takes great care in conducting strikes against a regime determined to use violence against its own citizens," lieutenant-general Charles Bouchard, commander of the Nato mission in Libya said in a statement.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

Citing "weapons system failure" as a first indication, the Canadian airforce general said Nato was still trying to determine the specifics of the incident.

Earlier that day, the Libyan government said that a Nato missile had struck a house in a residential area of the Libyan capital, killing at least nine civilians, including two children. Government officials also took Tripoli-based reporters to the alleged site of the attack and to a hospital where they were shown the bodies of two adults and two children, the Guardian reports.

Libya's foreign minister Abdelati Obeidi said this "deliberate bombing" called for a "global jihad" against the West.

The Libyan opposition, meanwhile, blamed the Gaddafi regime and its tactic of placing military installations near civilian areas. "These losses are to be expected," said Abdel Hafiz Ghoga, vice chairman of the National Transitional Council (NTC).

Nato's blunder - the first such admission since operations began four months ago with the aim of "protecting civilians" from Gaddafi'smortar shells and airstrikes - comes shortly after the outgoing US defence minister Robert Gates highlighted the technical and intelligence shortfalls of the alliance in Libya.

"Intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance assets are lacking that would allow more allies to be involved and make an impact. The most advanced fighter aircraft are little use if allies do not have the means to identify, process, and strike targets as part of an integrated campaign," Gates said in Brussels earlier this month.

Part of its intelligence-gathering network - Nato has no troops deployed on the ground - is the micro-blogging service Twitter, along with other open sources which may determine where Gaddafi's troops and facilities are.

Janice Clinch, a Canadian retiree and an administrator of the Libyan Youth Movement page on Facebook, discovered that a member of the Facebook group had found the location of a gas station converted into a headquarters for Gaddafi's forces and tweeted the co-ordinates for Nato to check out.

Another Twitter user from Arizona last month tweeted the co-ordinates of a suspected base in Tripoli, after he saw military vehicles on satellite images at a warehouse there. The base was hit by Nato later that day.

According to the Globe and Mail, some activists have been contacted directly by Nato, which has also set up unofficial accounts to solicit information.

Refugees

In an attempt to cap refugees and migrant workers from Libya to cross the Mediterranean in overcrowded boats, the Italian government on Friday signed an agreement with the Benghazi-based opposition, the NTC. The rebels pledged to honour several deals signed by the Berlusconi government with Gaddafi, including for repatriation of irregular migrants, should they come to power.

The Italian Foreign Ministry said the agreement is aimed at fighting "clandestine immigration" by exchanging information on the smugglers' groups that organises it, on the routes across the Mediterranean used by the human traffickers and groups specializing in falsifying passports and other documents.

But the UN special envoy for refugees, Antonio Guterres, said that the Italian fears are overblown.

"When one looks at the situation in Libya, about one million people left Libya after the conflict started and less than two percent came to Europe. So, sometimes the debate in Europe is - in my opinion - a debate that doesn't correspond to the reality," he said on Sunday while in Lampedusa, the main entry point to Europe for boats crossing the Mediterranean.

EU firms join gold rush on drones

EU firms have joined the gold rush on military and civilian unmanned aerial vehicles - drones. But ethical and legal questions dog the technology.

Belgium votes in hybrid EU-national election

Belgians will be electing MPs to six parliaments, on top of the European Parliament, with Greens expected to fare well at both the federal and regional levels.

News in Brief

  1. Former EU climate chief cheered by 40,000 activists in Denmark
  2. UK's May announces June 7 resignation date
  3. Ireland votes for EU election and divorce referendum
  4. Report: May to announce resignation plan on Friday
  5. Leading politicians: time for EU to have female leaders
  6. Poll: Finland's Green party to surge in EU elections
  7. High demand for postal voting in Denmark
  8. Some EU citizens turned away at UK polling stations

Key details on how Europeans will vote

It's one of the biggest democratic exercises in the world with over 400 million eligible voters. National rules apply, and national parties run, but the stakes are at European level.

Magazine

All about the European Parliament elections 2019

EUobserver's new magazine is meant to help readers prepare for the European Parliament elections, no matter their level of knowledge. You can download and read the entire magazine now.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Vote for the EU Sutainable Energy AwardsCast your vote for your favourite EUSEW Award finalist. You choose the winner of 2019 Citizen’s Award.
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersEducation gets refugees into work
  3. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank
  4. UNICEFChild rights organisations encourage candidates for EU elections to become Child Rights Champions
  5. UNESDAUNESDA Outlines 2019-2024 Aspirations: Sustainability, Responsibility, Competitiveness
  6. Counter BalanceRecord citizens’ input to EU bank’s consultation calls on EIB to abandon fossil fuels
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual EU-Turkmenistan Human Rights Dialogue takes place in Ashgabat
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersLeading Nordic candidates go head-to-head in EU election debate
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Secretary General: Nordic co-operation must benefit everybody
  11. Platform for Peace and JusticeMEP Kati Piri: “Our red line on Turkey has been crossed”
  12. UNICEF2018 deadliest year yet for children in Syria as war enters 9th year

Latest News

  1. Thunberg: We can still fix climate, but must start today
  2. Turnout up in Slovakia, with pro-EU liberals scoring high
  3. Belgium votes in hybrid EU-national election
  4. Irish greens take Dublin in second EU exit poll
  5. EU election results to trigger top jobs scramble This WEEK
  6. Don't tell the Dutch - but Timmermans 'won'
  7. EU says goodbye to May with 'respect'
  8. Strache scandal: how big a hit will Austrian far-right take?

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic commitment to driving global gender equality
  2. International Partnership for Human RightsMeet your defender: Rasul Jafarov leading human rights defender from Azerbaijan
  3. UNICEFUNICEF Hosts MEPs in Jordan Ahead of Brussels Conference on the Future of Syria
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic talks on parental leave at the UN
  5. International Partnership for Human RightsTrial of Chechen prisoner of conscience and human rights activist Oyub Titiev continues.
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic food policy inspires India to be a sustainable superpower
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersMilestone for Nordic-Baltic e-ID
  8. Counter BalanceEU bank urged to free itself from fossil fuels and take climate leadership
  9. Intercultural Dialogue PlatformRoundtable: Muslim Heresy and the Politics of Human Rights, Dr. Matthew J. Nelson
  10. Platform for Peace and JusticeTurkey suffering from the lack of the rule of law
  11. UNESDASoft Drinks Europe welcomes Tim Brett as its new president
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers take the lead in combatting climate change

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us