Libyan rebels condemn NATO as too slow to act

By Angus MacSwan

BENGHAZI, Libya (Reuters) – Libyan rebels fighting Muammar Gaddafi’s forces on Tuesday criticized NATO as too slow to act and said they would ask the U.N. Security Council to suspend its mission unless it “did its job properly.” Abdel Fattah Younes, head of the rebel forces, said NATO’s inaction was allowing Gaddafi’s forces to advance and letting them kill the people of the rebel-held city of Misrata “every day.”

NATO took over from a coalition led by the United States, Britain and France on March 31, putting the alliance in charge of air strikes targeting Gaddafi’s military infrastructure as well as policing a no-fly zone and an arms embargo.

“The reaction of NATO is very slow. One official calls another and then from the official to the head of NATO and from the head of NATO to the field commander. This takes eight hours,” Younes said.

“Either NATO does its work properly or we will ask the Security Council to suspend its work,” Younes added during a news conference in Benghazi in the rebel-held east.

“Misrata is being subjected to a full extermination,” he said. “NATO blesses us every now and then with a bombardment here and there and is letting the people of Misrata die every day. NATO has disappointed us,” he said.

Younes, who defected from Gaddafi’s administration to join the rebellion, said the rebels informed NATO whenever they had intelligence that his troops were moving toward a town.

“NATO is moving very slowly, allowing Gaddafi forces to advance,” he said. “NATO has become our problem.”

He also criticised Turkey for turning back a boat carrying supplies and weapons from Benghazi to Misrata.

(Additional reporting by Isabel Coles, Yasmine Saleh and Tom Perry in Cairo; Writing by Tom Perry, editing by Mark Trevelyan)

Libyan rebels condemn NATO as too slow to act