Gaddafi loyalists allegedly using Red Cross helicopters to bomb rebel held city

Sunday, May 8, 2011

The official flag of the Red Cross
Image: Jon Harald Soby.

Forces loyal to besieged Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi have entered into the rebel stronghold of Misrata, Libya, in helicopters bearing Red Cross markings to drop naval bombs on the port city, continuing a two-month long attack. Gaddafi forces are attempting to cut off humanitarian aid that the rebels are receiving, which primarily comes from ships which dock in Misrata's port from humanitarian organisations.

The helicopters reportedly flew over Misrata, the third largest city in the country and located on the northwest coast of Libya, on Thursday and Friday, disguised as aid workers from the Red Cross to circumvent the no-fly zone, which was approved unanimously by the U.N. Security Council in March. The no-fly zone aims at making it impossible for Gaddafi loyalists to perform airstrikes on the rebels.

NATO, who is aiding the rebels in striking Gaddafi strongholds, stated that helicopters had been spotted flying over Misrata on Thursday, but could not confirm that the helicopters bore the Red Cross logo. A spokesperson did, however, confirm that no humanitarian missions had been scheduled to fly that day. A rebel spokesman told CNN that helicopters flying over the city on Saturday had Red Cross markings. The same day, Gaddafi's troops were able to destroy six major fuel tanks in the city.

The latest incidents come after Italy confirmed it has not and will not supply the rebels with weapons to use against Gaddafi and his forces, but will consider sending non-lethal weapons such as radars and satellites. However, the rebel National Transitional Council said opposition representatives were flying to Italy to sign a deal that would see Italy send arms to rebel forces.