NATO Formally Declares Date to End to Libya Mission
Despite calls from the new regime in Libya for NATO to stay on in the country, the western alliance formally declared to end its seven-month mission there on October 31.
NATO ambassadors meeting in Brussels agreed "by unanimity to end OUP (Operation Unified Protector) on October 31," a diplomat told AFP news agency on condition of anonymity on Friday.
Alliance warplanes would wind up the mission on Monday after flying more than 26,000 sorties and bombing almost 6,000 targets in an operation that helped a ragtag rebel force oust veteran ruler Muammar Gaddafi.
The decision on Friday came one day after the UN Security Council unanimously voted to end the mandate that authorized military action in Libya from 11:59 pm Libyan time (2159 GMT) on October 31.
Earlier on Wednesday, the head of Libyan National Transitional Council, Mustafa Abdul Jalil, has asked NATO to extend its campaign till the year end, arguing that the country was still subjected to attacks by loyalists of Gaddafi, even after he was killed last week by the NTC.Abdul Jalil's fears were heightened by reports that Gaddafi’s former intelligence chief Abdullah al-Senussi, who fled Libya, had passed from Niger into Mali.
"We did hear, and more or less it is confirmed, that Abdullah Senussi has crossed into Niger," NTC vice chairman Abdel Hafiz Ghoga said on Thursday.
It was not known if Gaddafi's son and heir-apparent Seif al-Islam was with him. Seif was earlier reported to be hiding in Niger after his father was killed in Sirte on October 20.
While NATO has steadfastly denied targeting Gaddafi during the campaign, it was an alliance air strike that hit his convoy as it fled Sirte, leading to his capture and killing by NTC forces.