13-08-2020 03:14 AM Jerusalem Timing

Libyan Regime Accuses NATO of “Massacre”

Libyan Regime Accuses NATO of “Massacre”

Embattled Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi’s regime accused NATO of killing scores of civilians in airstrikes, as the coalition denied the claim.

Embattled Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi’s regime accused NATO of killing scores of civilians in airstrikes, as the coalition denied the claim.


Officials said NATO killed 85 people as it bombed the western village of Majar, south of the city of Zlitan, on Monday to allow rebel fighters to enter the area.
State television showed the charred bodies of at least three children, saying they were killed by a NATO strike. It also showed wounded women and children being treated in a hospital.


The Libyan government announced three days of mourning for the victims, according to state television.


Government spokesman, Mussa Ibrahim, said: "After the first three bombs dropped at around 21:00 GMT on Monday, many residents of the area ran to the bombed houses to try to save their loved ones."
"Three more bombs struck. Thirty-three children, 32 women and 20 men from 12 families were killed in the massacre," Mussa told reporters on an organized visit.


A spokesman for Gaddafi's government took foreign reporters to the scene of the strike.


NATO DENIES
For its part, NATO rejected the government’s accusations, saying the target was a military one, with civilian deaths unlikely.


In a statement, NATO confirmed that it had carried out an air strike south of Zlitan on Monday night, but insisted that the target was a military staging area.
"NATO had very clear intelligence demonstrating that former farm buildings were being used as a staging point for pro-Gaddafi forces to conduct attacks against the people of Libya," the statement said.


"We do not have evidence of civilian casualties at this stage, although military casualties, including mercenaries, are very likely owing to the nature of the target," it added.


Coalition forces began last March operations in Libya under a UN mandate authorizing military action for the protection of civilians.