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Photographers' Deaths In Libya Bring Role Of Allies Back To The Spotlight

Callie Schweitzer |
April 20, 2011 | 7:31 p.m. PDT

Editor-in-Chief

(Creative Commons)
(Creative Commons)
Public attention turned to Libya again Wednesday as news spread that two prominent photographers were killed on the front lines of Misrata.

Tim Hetherington, a well-known photographer and the director and producer of the recent Afghan war documentary "Restrepo," and Chris Hondros of Getty Images were struck by a rocket-propelled grenade in the country's third-largest city that has been the scene of much turmoil in what can be called a civil war.

"Gaddafi's people are feeling quite confident," a European security official told Reuters.

The fighting began in February when opposition forces called for an end to Libyan President Muammar Gaddafi's 41-year rule.

The situation in Libya remains unstable, but it's increasingly clear that Gaddafi forces are holding strong against the rebel army.

The deaths of Hetherington and Hondros brought the role of the rebels' allies and NATO back into the spotlight.

French President Nicoals Sarkozy said Wednesday he would intensify air strikes against Gaddafi forces to help Libyan rebels.

President Barack Obama and Prime Minister David Cameron also discussed upping "diplomatic and economic pressure" on Gaddafi on Wednesday, the White House said.

Though he rarely used Twitter, on Tuesday, Hetherington had tweeted, "In besieged Libyan city of Misrata. Indiscriminate shelling by Qaddafi forces. No sign of NATO.”

His tweet speaks to concerns shared by others--where is NATO and what are they doing?

"NATO has been inefficient in Misrata. NATO has completely failed to change things on the ground," a rebel spokesman told Reuters.

Business Week reports:

"The U.S. and its allies, a month into their air campaign in Libya, are being drawn more deeply into a conflict they expected would quickly topple leader Muammar Qaddafi.

Italy, France and the U.K. said they are sending military advisers and trainers to help Libya’s disorganized and poorly equipped rebels, as French President

Nicolas Sarkozy called for intensifying airstrikes. The U.S. announced yesterday that it would provide $25 million in non-lethal aid from Pentagon stockpiles, including radios, body armor, boots, medicine, and prepared halal meals. Qatar, which has helped the rebels sell oil valued at more than $100 million, is supplying light weapons, Suleiman Fortia, a member of the opposition group, said April 19 in Benghazi."

Residents in Misrata "suffer daily shelling by Qaddafi’s forces that a United Nations official said yesterday may constitute war crimes."

Reports from NATO officials surfaced Wednesday that Gaddafi has spent $3.5 million "hiring hundreds of mercenaries from north Africa to help defeat anti-government rebels."

"[T]he mercenaries are being paid $10,000 each to fight for Col Gaddafi for two months. The deal with the mercenaries was arranged last month after serious anti-government protests threatened to overthrow the regime," according to The Telegraph.



 

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