Russia urges NATO to investigate Libyan deaths

A British Typhoon jet (L) and Eurofighter approach a Canadian Boeing CC-150 Polaris during a refuelling operation above the Mediterranean sea as part of the NATO operation over Libya (AFP Photo / Alberto Pizzoli)
NATO officials claim the military bloc was not responsible for a single civilian casualty during its seven-month bombing campaign in Libya. Moscow is skeptical and is calling for an investigation, with the help of the UN if necessary.

Vitaly Churkin, Russia's UN Ambassador, says he has been asking NATO to provide “a definitive report” to the UN Security Council summing up its activities in Libya but “unfortunately" the alliance has only provided “piecemeal, rather perfunctory reports.”

Churkin told reporters he would raise the issue of civilian casualties when the Security Council discusses Libya on Thursday.

Critics of the military operation – including Russia, China and the African Union – have argued that NATO overstepped the bounds of a UN resolution which imposed a no-fly zone and authorized the protection of civilians, going so far as to take sides with the anti-government rebels.

"Unfortunately, NATO adopted the pure propaganda style, claiming zero civilian casualties in Libya which was completely implausible first of all, and secondly, not true," Churkin said.

He said it was "cruel and cynical" for people who lost their homes and loved ones "to be told that actually nothing of this kind happened."

The UN could provide help in investigating civilian casualties from the NATO aerial bombing campaign if the alliance is reluctant to do it on their own, he added.

Russia’s UN Ambassador added weight to his accusations when he praised UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon for saying "there must be no misunderstanding about civilian casualties in Libya."

During NATO's seven-month campaign, which ended on October 31, its fighter aircraft flew 26,000 sorties, including more than 9,600 strike missions.

Captured by rebel forces on October 20 near his hometown of Sirte, Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi is believed to have been shot dead by his captors without the benefit of a democratic trial, which adds yet another stain to the NATO operation, not to mention Russia-US relations.

Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said US special forces were involved in the assassination of the former Libyan leader.

“Who did this?” Putin asked last week during his annual nationwide Q&A session. “Drones, including American ones. They attacked his column. Then using the radio — through the special forces, who should not have been there — they brought in the so-called opposition and fighters, and killed him without court or investigation.”

Robert Bridge, RT