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Silvio Berlusconi agrees to bombing raids on previous colony, Libya

Silvio Berlusconi agreed to join NATO in bombing raids on Libya. Italy had been reluctant to conduct bombings on Libya because of Italy's past colonial rule over the country.

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Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi at Villa Madama in Rome, Tuesday. Berlusconi agreed to send Italian forced into Libya to join NATO forces in bombing raids in Libya.

Alessandro Bianchi/Reuters

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Italy will take part in strategic bombing raids in NATO's Libya mission, Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi said Monday, following a phone call with United States President Barack Obama

Berlusconi's office said in a statement that Italy had decided to beef up its military action in Libya to better contribute to protecting civilians.

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Italy had previously said it would not participate in airstrikes against Libyan targets, given its 40-year colonial rule over the country, but in Monday's statement it said it had decided to increase its "operational flexibility."

The statement stressed that Italian airstrikes would only be against "specific military objectives."

Berlusconi discussed Italy's decision with French President Nicolas Sarkozy in Rome on Tuesday.

Italian aircraft and navy ships had previously only been involved in Nato's Libya mission for refueling and other operations.

Rebels have complained that NATO-led firepower hasn't been sufficient to help them advance against Moammar Gadhafi's forces.