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British Defense Chief: NATO Needs to 'Up Ante' in Libya

British Defense Chief General David Richards (file photo)
British Defense Chief General David Richards (file photo)

The head of Britain's armed forces is urging NATO to broaden its range of bombing targets in Libya amid fears the conflict might end in a stalemate.

General David Richards told The Sunday Telegraph newspaper that there is a risk the conflict could result in Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi clinging to power if NATO does not "up the ante."  

He said NATO is currently not attacking infrastructure targets in Libya but needs to consider increasing the range of its targets and intensifying its military action.

Restrictions imposed by members of NATO allow its forces to only attack targets that pose a direct threat to Libyan civilians.

Libyan officials have accused NATO of violating that mandate by launching attacks aimed at killing Colonel Gadhafi.

Libyan rebels began their uprising against Gadhafi in February. NATO began supporting them with airstrikes in March.

On Saturday, mourners buried 11 people who were reportedly killed in a NATO airstrike the day before. The mourners fired guns and yelled angry chants at the funeral.

Libyan government spokesman Moussa Ibrahim said the airstrike killed 11 imams in the eastern city of Brega. The alliance responded by saying it is very careful in its selection of targets and had attacked a military command and control site in Brega.

NATO later said it could not confirm or deny civilian casualties.

Also Saturday, French President Nicolas Sarkozy met with visiting Libyan opposition leaders seeking support for their cause.

The opposition Transitional National Council delegation met with U.S. national security adviser Tom Donilon and other officials in Washington on Friday.  After the meeting, the White House released a statement calling the TNC a "legitimate and credible" voice for the Libyan people, but stopped short of a full diplomatic recognition.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and Reuters.

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