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NATO to Lead Libya War: Turkey

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TEHRAN, March 25 (ICANA) – Turkey has agreed that the 28-member NATO takes command of the ongoing US-led military operations in Libya.
Friday, March 25, 2011 12:21:30 PM
NATO to Lead Libya War: Turkey

Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu says NATO will take command of the military operation against Libya, after days of debate with the US, Britain and France.

"Our demands have been met on Libya, the operation will be handed over to NATO," the Associated Press quoted Davutoglu as saying on Thursday after meeting his US, French and British counterparts in Ankara.

"The coalition formed after a meeting in Paris is going to give up its mission as soon as possible and hand over the entire operation to NATO with its single command structure," Davutoglu stated.

Prior to the meeting, the marathon talks among NATO countries to end the gridlock over who should take overall command of operations in Libya collapsed on Wednesday when Turkey raised strong reservations about the scope and humanitarian risks of the mission in conflict-torn country.

Turkey brought to the fore the possibility of civilian casualties if the 28-member alliance takes full charge of military operations or take the lead in enforcing a UN-authorized no-fly zone over Libya as the Western coalition continues to bombard pro-Gaddafi forces in several cities.

France emphasized on formation of a committee of coalition countries, including Arab League member states to exercise political control.

Italy had also hinted it would not allow the Western forces to continue using its airfields unless NATO was given the leadership role in the military operations in Libya.

Earlier on Thursday, members of the Turkish parliament agreed on a motion to dispatch naval forces to Libya to help NATO enforce a UN-mandated arms embargo against the North African country.

The US-led military operations in Libya have set off a frenzy of speculations about the real motive behind the move in the oil-rich country, with many analysts saying that under the guise of protecting civilians, as enshrined in the UN Security Council resolution 1973, which permitted the use of force against the Libyan regime, Washington and its Western allies are basically after the North African country's vast oil reserves.

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