Premature to decide on halting Libya campaign: NATO

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NATO will pursue its campaign in Libya as long as civilians are under threat from remaining forces loyal to Moamer Kadhafi, the military alliance's secretary general Anders Fogh Rasmussen said Monday.

"The United Nations have mandated us to take all necessary measures to protect civilians," he told reporters in London.

"And we have seen also during this weekend that remnants of Kadhafi's regime still constitute a threat to the civilian population. So as long as this threat exists we will continue."

NATO's mandate from the United Nations expires on September 27, and Rasmussen said the military alliance would begin considerations this week as to whether they would have to prolong it.

But he added: "It's premature to take a final decision now because the situation on the ground evolves very fast."

Rasmussen said the status of the former Libyan leader, who remains at large, was not a consideration.

"I have no knowledge of Kadhafi's whereabouts and his possible capture is not an element in our assessments when we are going to decide whether we will continue our operations," the secretary general said.

© 2011 AFP

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