NATO on Tuesday morning unleashed its heaviest attack yet on the Libyan capital of Tripoli, bombing at least 15 targets during a 30-minute airstrike that was concentrated near Muammar Qaddafi’s compound.
The offensive was seen as the latest indication that NATO is eager to avoid the stalemate that has begun to settle over the three-month-old conflict between Qaddafi and the rebels fighting for his ouster.
The strikes came as the U.S. invited Libya’s rebel leadership on Tuesday to open an office in Washington, D.C., and as NATO appears to be inching closer to adding ground-attack helicopters to its military campaign, the Wall Street Journal reports.
Tuesday’s early morning strikes set off what has become a familiar pattern of conflicting reports from NATO officials and Qaddafi loyalists, the New York Times notes.
A spokesman for the Libyan government said that the airstrikes had hit an army housing unit that had largely been cleared in anticipation of an attack, and that the casualties were limited to civilians from a nearby neighborhood.
NATO, meanwhile, said the facility that it struck was a key government storage facility that had been used by Qaddafi’s forces since the revolt began in February. "This complex is where members of the Qaddafi regime, not only military, but hit squads, were based out of in the early days of the violent suppression of the popular uprising, and it has been active ever since," a NATO official said, Reuters reports.