The Nato agreed on Wednesday to a three-month extension of its air-and-sea campaign in Libya as the country’s new rulers try to dislodge well-armed Gaddafi loyalists holding out in several towns.
The agreement to extend the United Nations-mandated mission, which Nato took over on March 31, came at a meeting of ambassadors of the 28 Nato states in Brussels, a Nato diplomat said.
The current operations mandate was due to expire on September 27, and it was the second 90-day extension to the mission to protect civilians that has involved a campaign of air strikes and a naval mission to enforce a UN arms embargo against ousted leader Muammar Gaddafi’s government.
“We are all pretty clear we are in the final stages of the old regime’s ability to threaten civilians,” another Nato diplomat said.
“But for some time now everyone has been united behind the idea that we need to keep the mission going as long as civilians are under threat and we still see civilians are under threat from actions on the ground.”
NTC captures Gaddafi bastion
Libya’s interim rulers said on Wednesday they had captured most of one of Muammar Gaddafi’s last strongholds deep in the Sahara desert, a boost to an administration struggling to assert full control over the fractured country.
The remote desert outpost of Sabha had been holding out along with Bani Walid southeast of Tripoli and Gaddafi’s hometown Sirte since the fall of the capital.