Western Siege Buoys Anti-Gaddafi Forces, Brings Claims Of Civilian Casualties
As the U.S.-led military coalition struck targets along the Libyan coast, Arab League head Amr Moussa raised the claim that it amounted to "more civilian bombardment."
Mother Jones reported: "Operation Odyssey Dawn has turned out to be a major assault anchored by dozens of ships, B-2 stealth bombers, Marine Harrier jets, Tomahawk cruise-missile strikes, and attacks by French and British fighters ... pretty far beyond what the Arab League thought it was signing up for."
In Tripoli, Moammar Gaddafi's officials held a press event for foreign journalists purporting to show the fresh graves of some 64 civilians said to be killed overnight by Western strikes:
"As a cleric fired up people who said they were mourners at the cemetery and plainclothes security men defiantly fired assault rifles into the air, the uncle of a three-month-old girl stood over her freshly dug grave, covered with a few roses."
U.S. Adm. Mike Mullen said there had been no confirmation of civilian deaths, but Russia disagrees, calling on Britain, France and the U.S. to stop the "non-selective use of force." Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said: "In general, it reminds me of a medieval call for a crusade.”
Moussa backed away from his criticism somewhat Monday, indicating that he'd gotten assurances that the U.N. is as concerned as he is. Gaddafi addressed state television regarding the imposition of the no-fly zone, calling foreign forces "Nazis" and claiming that thousands of civilians had been killed in the strikes.
There is reportedly some theater on display however, as a BBC correspondent published accounts of empty ambulances racing around Tripoli and citizens who'd heard no accounts of civilian deaths from family or friends.
One resident said: "We would have heard by now if there were any civilians hurt. Everyone knows everyone here, and word travels fast."
"So, the regime has finally made use of the dead bodies they gunned down here and then snatched from streets and hospitals."
Gaddafi has been accused of using human shields to protect his remaining strongholds, another in a long list of atrocities attributed to the imperiled dictator.