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Libyan Rebels Make Desperate Plea for Stronger NATO Action


In this image taken during a trip organized by Libyan authorities, Libyan soldiers control a checkpoint near the city of Misrata, April 9, 2011

In this image taken during a trip organized by Libyan authorities, Libyan soldiers control a checkpoint near the city of Misrata, April 9, 2011

Rebels in Libya are warning of what they call a "massacre" in the western city of Misrata unless NATO provides them more support against government forces.

A rebel spokesman said at least 23 people were killed in a rocket attack by forces loyal to leader Moammar Gadhafi near Misrata Thursday.

NATO chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen told alliance members meeting in Berlin that his forces have maintained a "high operational tempo" against legitimate targets in Libya. However, he said NATO needs more high-precision attack aircraft for the mission.

Meanwhile, U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon says European, African and Arab delegates attending a conference in Cairo have agreed on a unified approach to finding a "lasting solution" to Libya's crisis. He commented on Thursday after meeting with officials from groups including the EU, Arab League and African Union.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told NATO members in Berlin that is important for the alliance to maintain its unity in the Libya mission. Alliance members have been divided over whether to step up a bombing campaign against forces loyal to Gadhafi. Britain and France have called for allies to invest more in the military operation, while the United States has sought to limit its own role in the operation.

The talks in Berlin and Cairo come a day after an international contact group joining U.S., European and Arab partners, pledged more monetary and political support for the Libyan opposition at a meeting in Doha.

In its final statement, the group called on Gadhafi to leave power, saying he and his government had "lost all legitimacy."

NATO took over command of the operation over Libya from the United States on March 31.

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