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BRUSSELS, August 27 (Itar-Tass) — There are no ground troops under NATO command in Libya and NATO does not intend to deploy them in this country, NATO spokeswoman Oana Lungescu said.
“There are no ground troops under NATO command in Libya, and NATO has absolutely no plans to deploy any ground troops as part of any possible future supporting role,” Lungescu told Itar-Tass on Saturday.
“NATO will continue to conduct air operations in full compliance with its UN mandate until the attacks and threats against civilians stop. Our mission will continue for as long as necessary to get the job done - but not a minute longer,” the NATO spokeswoman said.
She stressed, “NATO Allies and contributing partners agreed that is for the UN to take the leading role in assisting the people of Libya in the post-Gaddafi era.”
In her words, “No decision has been taken, but NATO can play a supporting role, if needed and requested.”
Earlier, NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen told BBC, “There will be no NATO boots on the ground.” “We have been mandated to do air policing, to enforce an arms embargo, to take all necessary measures to protect civilians and we conduct operations from the air and at sea but we have no intention whatsoever to put boots on the ground.”
Commenting on NATO’s possible contribution to security after the completion of military actions in Libya, Admiral Giampaolo Di Paola, chairman of NATO’s Military Committee, told Euronews: “We don’t see, or to be more exact we exclude, the possibility of ground troops under NATO command, even in the post-Gaddafi period.”
In his words, NATO “has committed its willingness to a role, not of guidance but of support”. “It’s up to the National Transition Council – who will be the legitimate Libyan authority post-Gaddafi – and the UN to define what kind of assistance will be necessary,” the Admiral said.
“I underline that NATO has already worked in other countries to secure areas where there have been dangerous weapons. We have the expertise, if requested we could deliver that expertise,” he stressed.