By RFE RL
(RFE/RL) — NATO today vowed to do everything to protect the population of Libya’s besieged rebel stronghold of Misurata.
NATO deputy spokeswoman Carmen Romero said today that Misurata is the alliance’s “No. 1 priority,” after NATO was accused by Libyan rebels of failing to protect civilians in Misurata, Libya’s third-largest city.
Abdel Fattah Younes, the top commander of rebel forces, has said allied aircraft did nothing while forces loyal to Muammar Qaddafi kept up their 40-day-long artillery bombardment of the city, which is located some 200 kilometers east of Tripoli.
The UN Security Council last month authorized the use of foreign air power to protect civilians from attacks by Qaddafi’s forces on rebel-held cities.
NATO last week took control of the operation from a Western military coalition that included the United States, France, and Britain.
Romero said the operations have continued “at the same rhythm” since NATO took control.
French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe, meanwhile, said today the situation in Misurata was not tenable and that he would discuss it with NATO chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen.