23 Oct 2011
Nato is set to end its seven-month campaign in Libya at the end of the month, the alliance’s secretary general, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, has said.
Following the death of Colonel Muammar Gaddafi and the fall of his final stronghold at Sirte, Mr Rasmussen said the international military mission would start winding down.
“We have taken a preliminary decision to end Operation Unified Protector on October 31,” he said after a meeting of the alliance’s governing body, the North Atlantic Council. “We will take a formal decision early next week.”
Air patrols are set to continue over Libya during the next 10 days as a “precautionary measure” to ensure the stability of the new regime. They will gradually be reduced in coming days if there are no further outbreaks of fighting with forces loyal to the ousted dictator.
Mr Rasmussen hailed the success of the Nato mission in which most of the aerial sorties were carried out by British and French warplanes.
“It shows that freedom is the biggest force in the world,” he said.
In all Nato warplanes have flown about 26,000 sorties, including over 9,600 strike missions. They destroyed about 5,900 military targets, including Libya’s air defences and over 1,000 tanks, vehicles and guns, as well as Gaddafi’s command and control networks.
Mr Rasmussen said it was up to the new National Transitional Council (NTC) government in Libya to decide whether to mount an investigation into the circumstances of Gaddafi’s death.
“With regards to Gaddafi, I would expect the new authorities in Libya to live up fully to the basic principles of rule of law and human rights, including full transparency,” he said.
Following the death of Gaddafi, Save the Children is warning that Libya must now make young people its priority. Save the Children spokesman in Tripoli and Nobel Peace co-Laureate Rae McGrath said: “Libya must now prioritise its children and young people if the country is to have a stable future.”