BRUSSELS, Aug. 23 (UPI) — While events unfolding Tuesday in Libya suggest the final chapter is being written, NATO can’t afford to let down its guard, a spokeswoman said.
Libyan rebels captured the compound of Moammar Gadhafi Tuesday. The situation in Tripoli was unclear after Saif Gadhafi, one of the leader’s sons wanted for war crimes, was seen late Monday on the streets of Tripoli after allegedly escaping from rebel hands.
U.S. Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Mich., chairman of the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, said in a statement late Monday that it was “increasingly apparent” that Gadhafi’s regime was falling apart.
Rogers was an early advocate of enforcing a no-fly zone over Libya to protect civilians from further attacks by forces loyal to Gadhafi, wanted by the International Criminal Court for war crimes.
The U.N. Security Council cleared the way for NATO enforcement of the no-fly zone over Libya in March.
NATO spokeswoman Oana Lungescu said Tuesday that Gadhafi was “history.” Events on the ground, she said, suggested the end is near for his regime. But the Monday launch of a Scud missile against Misurata suggested the fight wasn’t over.
“So we cannot drop our guard. And we won’t,” she said. “NATO is committed to our United Nations Security Council commitment and our mandate to protect civilians, and we will keep on implementing it for as long as we are needed.”
British Foreign Secretary William Hague told the BBC that it was wrong to put too much emphasis on any one development in the fight for Tripoli. The regime was in its “death throes,” he said, “but it’s not over yet.”
The international community, he added, must maintain its momentum in order to help the transition succeed.