NATO on Tuesday suggested that it would be willing to stop bombing Libya during Ramadan, if Muammar Gaddafi's forces also honoured a ceasefire during the Muslim holy month.
"We need to wait and see whether Gaddafi's forces continue to shell and inflict harm," said a NATO spokesman, Wing Cmdr. Mike Bracken. "If they do, and we believe there is risk to the lives of Libyan people, then I think it would be highly appropriate to continue to use the mandate that NATO has to protect those lives," Bracken said during a teleconference from NATO's operational command in Naples, Italy.
NATO spokeswoman Oana Lungescu said, "It is hoped that Gadhafi's forces will stop attacking and threatening to attack civilians, not just for Ramadan but immediately. As long as attacks and threats continue, NATO's mission remains to protect civilians in Libya."
US-led forces have not honoured Ramadan, which begins about August 1, by stopping their bombing campaigns against the armed groups they face in mostly Muslim Iraq and Afghanistan.
But Gaddafi has claimed that NATO's air force attacks on cities such as Tripoli, Libya's capital, are aimed at civilians.
NATO also appears concerned that bombing the city during the Muslim nation during Ramadan, a month-long period of prayer, reflection and sunrise-to-sunset fasting, could provoke a backlash in the Islamic world.