Fierce fighting continues to rage on the streets of central Misrata as insurgents and forces loyal to Muammar Gaddafi battle it out in the western rebel held Libyan city. Some reports suggest many key buildings in Misrata have now fallen back under rebel control. Such reports, however, remain unconfirmed. What is confirmed is that the US has started using armed predator drones to carry out air missions over Libya.
Already in use along the Pakistan-Afghan border, Washington insists they will reduce the risk of civilian casualties.
General James Cartwright, Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said: ‘‘They’re uniquely suited for areas, urban areas where you can get low collateral damage, and so we’re trying to manage that collateral damage, obviously, but that’s the best platform to do that with.’‘
Rebels have welcomed the Pentagon’s move after President Obama gave the go ahead. The US, however, has insisted the deployment of the unmanned aircraft is not evidence of mission creep, despite such accusations by the Libyan leadership.
At least nine rebels are thought to have been killed in Misrata on Thursday adding to the hundreds of alleged deaths since the two month siege of the city began. Heavy casualties were also reported among pro-government forces, although this could not be verified.