NATO attacks in Libya must be intensified and should include the easing of restrictions on bombing targets, such as the country’s infrastructure, in order to avoid a stalemate in the conflict, the head of Britain’s armed forces said on Sunday.
“At present NATO is not attacking infrastructure targets in Libya,” General David Richards said, the Telegraph reports. “But if we want to increase the pressure on Gaddafi's regime then we need to give serious consideration to increasing the range of targets we can hit.”
Those comments have apparently produced results, as reports late Sunday night indicate NATO aircraft targeted an oil terminal at the key oil port of Ras Lanouf, causing leaks to methane oil tanks.
In response, Libya’s deputy foreign minister Khaled Kaim was critical of the attack, calling it a “provocation,” the AP reports.
No stranger to calls for increased action in military campaigns, Richards noted the military operation against Gaddafi's government is working but additional resources should be used. “The vice is closing on Gaddafi, but we need to increase the pressure further through more intense military action,” he said, according to the Telegraph.
He is calling for support from NATO’s member states so the military operation can succeed. “We now have to tighten the vice to demonstrate to Gaddafi that the game is up and he must go,” Richards continued.
Although an air strike on the Gaddafi compound on April 30 reportedly killed one of Gaddafi’s sons and three grandchildren, all under the age of 12, Richards added that Gaddafi is not being targeted. “We are not targeting Gaddafi directly, but if it happened that he was in a command and control centre that was hit by Nato and he was killed, then that is within the rules,” he said in the Telegraph interview.
Richards’ comments come at a time when Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi’s government is calling for a truce in exchange for a NATO ceasefire as the conflict now enters its fourth month.
After a meeting with the UN special envoy to Libya, Abdul-Illah al-Khatib, Gaddafi’s prime minister Baghdadi Mahmudi said Libya wants “an immediate ceasefire to coincide with a stop to the NATO bombardment and the acceptance of international observers,” according to AFP.
On Monday, the International Criminal Court accused Gaddafi and two senior members of his regime of crimes against humanity for their participation in illegal attacks against protesters.
The ICC has asked judges to issue arrest warrants for Gaddafi, his son Seif al-Islam Gaddafi and Libyan intelligence head Abdullah al-Sanoussi.
Kaim, the foreign minister, has dismissed the warrants, claiming the government would “not show any attention to the decision,” AP reports. He added that Gaddafi is “still the leader of the country — but not in charge of day-to-day business.”