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In Libya, U.S. may provide humanitarian aid, but no troops on the ground

August 22, 2011|By David Cloud
(Sergey Ponomarev/Associated…)

As forces loyal to Libyan leader Moammar Kadafi made a last stand in Tripoli, the U.S. believes that Kadafi is still somewhere in Libya, a Pentagon spokesman said Monday.

“We do not have any information that he has left the country,” Col. Dave Lapan said.

U.S. aircraft are continuing to fly surveillance operations over Libya as part of the NATO effort to find Kadafi and other Libyan leaders, NATO officials said.  The operations include U.S. Predator drone aircraft, two more of which were deployed to Libya last week.

Even as fighting continued, NATO and officials from other countries have begun discussions about providing assistance to Libya if the rebels assume control of the capital, Lapan said.

The U.S. does not intend to contribute ground troops to a peacekeeping force for Libya, but it may provide humanitarian aid, cargo aircraft and other military equipment for such an effort, he said.

“If there is going to be some kind of transitional mission that involves any kind of foreign troops, there wouldn't be U.S. ground troops as part of that,” Lapan said.

The White House ruled out putting U.S. troops into Libya early in the 6-month-old conflict. But many analysts believe that some sort of international peacekeeping force could be necessary to help the rebels maintain security and secure ammo dumps, NATO officials said.

Lapan said any such force would likely be authorized by the United Nations. “It remains to be seen what the force would look like and who would lead it, but it’s likely to be U.N-led.”

david.cloud@latimes.com

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