First NATO strikes in Libya with attack copters: Official

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Muammar Gaddafi
Brussels, Jun 4: NATO announced today (June4) that it had for the first time used attack helicopters in Libya, striking military vehicles, military equipment and forces backing embattled leader Muammar Gaddafi.

"Attack helicopters under NATO command were used for the first time today in military operations over Libya as part of Operation Unified Protector," the Atlantic Alliance said in a statement.

"The targets struck included military vehicles, military equipment and fielded forces of the Gaddafi regime," said the statement, without detailing exactly where the strikes had taken place.

British Apache helicopters took part in the attacks, the Ministry of Defence said in London. "Yes, we confirm their intervention," a spokeswoman said, without giving further details.

Lieutenant General Charles Bouchard, commander in chief of the NATO mission in Libya, said "this success demonstrates the unique possibilities offered by using combat helicopters."

"The use of attack helicopters provides the NATO operation with additional flexibility to track and engage pro-Gaddafi forces who deliberately target civilians and attempt to hide in populated areas," the statement said.

It quoted Bouchard, the Canadian officer in charge of Operation Unified Protector, as saying: "We will continue to use these means when and where necessary, with the same precision as in all our missions."

NATO forces "are constantly reviewing their operations and use of available assets, including attack helicopters, to best maintain the momentum and increase the pressure on pro-Gaddafi forces." 

AFP

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