NATO attack helicopters enter the fray in Libya | World| Breaking news and perspectives from around the globe | DW | 04.06.2011
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NATO attack helicopters enter the fray in Libya

NATO has announced that it used attack helicopters in Libya for the first time to strike military vehicles, equipment and forces backing embattled leader Colonel Moammar Gadhafi.

An Apache helicopter

Apaches could provide NATO with more flexibility

For the first time since NATO launched an air war against Libyan leader Moammar Gaddafi in March, attack helicopters have been used against forces loyal to Gadhafi's regime.

In a statement, NATO said that the helicopters were used on Saturday morning, June 4, to strike targets that included military vehicles, military equipment and fielded forces.

Charles Bouchard

Bouchard said chopper attacks could continue

"This successful engagement demonstrates the unique capabilities brought to bear by attack helicopters," said Lieutenant-General Charles Bouchard, the commander of the alliance's Libya force. "We will continue to use these assets whenever and wherever needed, using the same precision as we do in all of our missions."

Last month, Britain and France had said they were making helicopters available as part of the ongoing mission in Libya. The statement released from NATO said using helicopters provides additional flexibility to track and engage pro-Gadhafi forces who "deliberately target civilians and attempt to hide in populated areas."

However, helicopters are also easier to attack from the ground than fighter jets, which had, until now, been used for airstrikes in Libya.

Foreign influences

Meanwhile, China confirmed its first diplomatic contact with the Libyan rebels. The meeting took place in Qatar, where Beijing's ambassador to Qatar, Zhang Zhiliang, met with Mustafa Abdel Jalil, the chairman of the rebel council.

In the United States, the House of Representatives passed a resolution calling for President Obama to clarify the country's role in Libya.

Obama did not seek Congressional approval before starting US military action in Libya.

Author: Matt Zuvela (AP, AFP, Reuters)
Editor: Toma Tasovac

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