NATO has announced that it is extending its mission in Libya for another 90 days.
A statement from the military alliance read:
“This decision sends a clear message to the Qadhafi regime: We are determined to continue our operation to protect the people of Libya. We will sustain our efforts to fulfil the United Nations mandate. We will keep up the pressure to see it through.
“Our decision also sends a clear message to the people of Libya: NATO, our partners, the whole international community, stand with you. We stand united to make sure that you can shape your own future. And that day is getting closer.”
Since taking over operations in Libya on 31st March 2011, NATO has conducted air 9036 sorties, including 3443 strike sorties and has 19 ships actively patrolling the Central Mediterranean.
Wing Commander Mike Bracken gave an update on the situation in Libya at a press briefing on 31st May 2011:
“In the east Brega has remained quiet with both pro- and anti-Qadhafi forces in the region dug into defensive positions and mounting few, if any, assaults.
“However, NATO continues to strike a number of significant military targets in the area, which continue to pose a threat to the civilian population.
“In Misrata the situation continues to gradually improve for the people who live there. Life is getting better. There are still occasional reports of shellings, but these are becoming less frequent. The port is open. Humanitarian shipments are arriving unhindered by the actions of pro-Qadhafi forces, and anti-Qadhafi forces are pushing further out from the city.
“Moving west, the front line between Zlintan and Misrata is currently the most fluid and volatile in Libya. Pro-Qadhafi forces have several times indiscriminately shelled the town of Dafniyah and there are indications that the pro-Qadhafi forces have suppressed a number of popular anti-Qadhafi uprisings in Zlintan.
“In the western Berber mountain region brutal and indiscriminate shelling by pro-Qadhafi forces is making life extremely difficult and dangerous for the population of Yafran. However, we believe the situation is somewhat improved in other areas of the Berber Highlands where people are less endangered by the pro-Qadhafi forces for this moment in time.
“Finally, in Tripoli we have clear indications that the population is being threatened by pro-Qadhafi forces during patrols and at checkpoints. Universities have been closed with the intent of preventing peaceful demonstrations being organized and any hint of anti-Qadhafi sentiment being developed into social unrest.
“NATO air operations have maintained an intense tempo in Tripoli. Precision strikes continue on pro-Qadhafi forces and facilities which threaten the civilian population. So far NATO’s carried out over 9,000 sorties, of which about 3,500 have been strike sorties. In summary, pro-Qadhafi forces are on the back foot in many parts of Libya.”
The political position of the alliance has changed over the weekend with ministers at the G8 summit now clearly stating that “Gaddafi must go”. NATO claims that five generals have recently defected from the Gaddafi regime, underlining the success of the NATO offensive.