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Attrition in Misrata as Libya heads for 'stalemate'

Attrition in Misrata as Libya heads for 'stalemate'
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Libyan rebels have managed to capture a major office building in the centre of Misrata that government snipers had been using.

The two-week battle of attrition for control of the only rebel-held city in western Libya appears to bear out comments made by a senior US military officer that the conflict in Libya is heading for stalemate.

Admiral Mike Mullen said the international campaign has destroyed between 30 and 40 per cent of Muammar Gadaffi’s ground forces.

But rebels who are fighting street by street in Misrata feel the NATO firepower has failed any difference there.

The French defence ministry said it increased the number of sorties from an average of 30 to 41 last week. Alliance bombers also turned their attention to Gadaffi’s home city of Sirte.

Libyan state television claimed nine people were killed in the overnight raids including water company employees who were working during the attack.

Barack Obama has approved the deployment of unmanned drone aircraft in skies over Libya, a development that has been warmly welcomed by rebel forces.

The Predators give NATO the capability to strike targets without putting crewmembers’ lives at risk, and are already widely used in Pakistan and Afghanistan.