WASHINGTON, June 6 (Xinhua) — NATO will not send in troops on the ground although it has added Apache attack helicopters to its arsenal in the air raids on Libya, the military alliance’s chief said on Monday.
“Let me stress that we have no intention whatsoever to put boots on the ground,” NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen told the CBS TV network in an interview, saying that the military bloc will continue its air operations “with the aim to fully implement the UN mandate and protect the civilian population in Libya.”
British Apache and French attack helicopters joined the air raids for the first time on Saturday, in an effort to end a deadlocked situation on the ground in Libya, in which the opposition forces had failed to make much headway.
Rasmussen reiterated NATO’s three military objectives in Libya – – a complete end to all attacks against civilians, a withdrawal of government forces to their bases and barracks, and “immediate and unhindered humanitarian access” to people in need.
“We will continue our operation until these objectives are met, ” he asserted, noting that a parallel political track is also underway, in which the international community has put a lot of pressure on Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi for him to leave power.
“It’s hard to imagine a complete end to attacks against civilians as long as he remains in power,” the NATO chief said. ” The fact is that we have considerably degraded his war machine. We see the opposition advance in Libya. The Gaddafi regime is more and more isolated every day.”