Thursday, August 18, 2011

US sends two more drones to Libya

A Predator drone

Source: Press TV

The US military has dispatched two more Predator drones to the Libya war as Libyan revolutionary forces make major advances toward the power base of the country's ruler Muammar Gaddafi.

A US official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said on Wednesday that the drones arrived earlier this week, Reuters reported.

The measure was adopted following requests by the NATO commanders who had said changing tactics by the Gaddafi forces made it difficult for fighter jets to hit targets.

US President Barack Obama authorized the use of armed drones over Libya in April and since then there have been over 90 drone attacks, reports say.

The drones can remain in the air for a dozen hours or longer and send live videos and other intelligence information to the headquarters on the ground and have the capability to carry two air-to-ground missiles.

The move reveals a big shift in the US strategy in Libya since Leon Panetta took over the Pentagon early July.

Robert Gates, the former US defense secretary, had demanded that the European allies do more in the Libya military campaign. However, Panetta has said victory in the Libya war is one of his top priorities.

Meanwhile, on Wednesday, fighting between Gaddafi loyalists and fighters raged for a fourth consecutive day in the strategic town of Zawiya, around 50 kilometers (32 miles) west of Gaddafi's stronghold of Tripoli.

Fierce fighting has been reported near the town's oil refinery but revolutionary forces say they have already shut down the fuel lines to and from the refinery.

Fighters also said they made other gains in the west of the country by eliminating regime forces in the town of Tiji and securing the coastal town of Sabratha, west of Zawiya.

Fighters said on Wednesday that they will gain victory over regime forces by the end of August.

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