As French airforce jets fly their first reconnaissance missions over Libya and begin patrolling the skies over Benghazi, Jana, the State Press agency in Tripoli, says that crowds of people are converging on possible strategic targets in order to act as human shields.
The French, British and American forces all have bases dotted around the Mediterranean Basin which could be used in any military action against Libya.
Michael O’Hanlon, Foreign Policy Fellow at the Brookings Institution said: “We could kill people in the process, if Gaddafi put military personnel, or civilians, next to these sites, essentially as human shields. And a weapon could always go astray and hit something it wasn’t supposed to.”
It is thought that targets would be primarily military ones like Libyan air bases, ground force centres, and naval installations.
Commentators point out that the allied forces aiming to cripple Colonel Gaddafi’s ability to wage civil war place huge importance on avoiding civilian casualties. This, they say, will make it difficult for them to tackle those army units loyal to Gaddafi already inside rebel-held urban areas.