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Obama Approves Use of Drones In Libya

Jenny Chen |
April 21, 2011 | 1:54 p.m. PDT

Associate News Editor


Predator Drone (Creative Commons)
Predator Drone (Creative Commons)
President Barack Obama authorized the use of armed Predator drones in Libya on Thursday, according to Defense Secretary Robert Gates. 

Gates held a press conference and called the use of drones a “modest contribution” to NATO’s effort in Libya. 

“What they will bring that is unique to the conflict is their ability to get down lower, therefore to be able to get better visibility on targets that have started to dig themselves into defensive positions,” Marine  Gen. James Cartwright said at the press conference. “They are uniquely suited for urban areas.” 

Drones are armed unmanned aircraft and are currently already being used along Pakistan’s border with Afghanistan. The U.S. military planned to launch the drones in Libya on Thursday but turned them back due to inclement weather. 

This decision comes after NATO indicated it may increase air strikes in Libya. CNN reported that NATO had issued a new warning to Libyan civilians on Thursday to stay away from military areas, foreshadowing new plans to stop Libyan leader Moammar Gaddafi's regime from attacking citizens. 

Gates said the U.S. goal was to degrade Gaddafi’s forces enough to make it easier for the people to rise up.

He suggested that the Libyan leader’s power would be constrained both militarily and financially due to various international sanctions. 

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton also said on Thursday that it appears that Gaddafi’s forces may have used cluster bombs against rebels, which scatter lethal fragments across a distance which places civilians in danger. She called the government forces’ actions in western town Misrata “deplorable.” 

Reach reporter Jenny Chen here.
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