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Osama bin Laden killing ‘should serve as warning to Gaddafi’ says head of UK Armed Forces



The killing of Osama bin Laden should serve as a warning to Libya’s Muammar al Gaddafi, the head of the Armed Forces has said.

Gen Sir David Richards, the Chief of the Defence Staff, said the death of the al-Qaeda leader should have a “psychological impact” on the Libyan dictator and others because “one day their deeds will catch up with them”.

The general’s warning came as British officials disclosed that weeks of allied attacks had cost Col Gaddafi almost three quarters of his military forces.

Sir David described the killing of bin Laden as “definitely a positive” in the context of political change in the Middle East.

“It will remind like-minded people wherever they are that one day their deeds will catch up with them,” he said.

“That is psychologically very important in the context of Libya and other crises in the Middle East, so I think it is a psychological impact rather than a short-term impact.”

Nato denies that it is targeting Col Gaddafi personally, but Liam Fox, the Defence Secretary, said last month that the alliance was launching attacks on Tripoli “to increase the psychological pressure on Gaddafi”. A Nato air strike last weekend destroyed a house occupied by one of his sons. A spokesman for the regime said the Libyan leader was in the compound at the time and claimed it was an assassination attempt.

Britain and France began air strikes on Libyan targets in March, but rebels fighting to oust the dictator have made little progress against his forces.

British officials yesterday insisted that “time is against Gaddafi”, claiming that military and diplomatic pressure on his regime was starting to tell.

Military analysts estimate that Col Gaddafi began the conflict with about 50,000 ground troops, of whom half were unreliable conscripts and no more than 12,000 were reliable professional soldiers. “We estimate that he has around 30 per cent of his ground forces capability remaining,” said a British official.

RAF missions have struck about 250 targets in Libya since operations began, officials said, accounting for about a third of Col Gaddafi’s pre-conflict military capabilities.

Increasing Col Gaddafi’s diplomatic isolation, France yesterday announced it was expelling 14 Libyan diplomats.

Amnesty International, the human rights group, also accused the Gaddafi regime of war crimes against Libyan civilians.

Loyalist forces have been attacking the rebel-held town of Misurata using snipers, cluster bombs, artillery and mines.

“The scale of the relentless attacks that we have seen by Gaddafi forces to intimidate the residents of Misurata for more than two months is truly horrifying,” Amnesty International said. “It shows a total disregard for the lives of ordinary people and is in clear breach of inter-national humanitarian law.”

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