An increase in NATO strikes along with British and French commitment to deploy attack helicopters may be aimed at breaking a stalemate in the conflict.
The strikes – combined with a fresh commitment by Britain and France to deploy highly precise attack helicopters in Libya – appeared to signal a NATO escalation to break the current stalemate, if not actually target the Libyan leader.
"I think it is an absolute sign of [NATO] intensification, soon after the announcement of new military helicopters to be deployed," says an opposition activist in the capital, where some 20 thunderous blasts came in 30 minutes. "This sends a message that the focus is on the regime stronghold. This suggests that [NATO] really wants to decapitate this killing machine, rather than eat away at it."
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NATO said it was targeting a facility adjacent to Col. Qaddafi's compound for vehicles that were "active" in resupplying pro-Qaddafi forces that mounted "attacks against innocent civilians." The Western military alliance, which took the lead from US military planners soon after a mid-March UN Security Council resolution authorized "all necessary means" to protect civilians, says it is not targeting individuals.
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