NATO plans to end Libyan mission Oct. 31
NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said the alliance has made a preliminary decision to end its Libyan mission at the end of the month.
"We agreed that our operations are very close to completion and we have taken a preliminary decision to end Operation Unified Protector on Oct. 31," Rasmussen told a news conference.
Rasmussen spoke at a news conference after NATO members met to discuss the end of the seven-month air campaign launched to support the forces that rose up against deposed Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi, who was killed Thursday.
Rasmussen said NATO would closely monitor the situation as operations are wound down and also "take action if necessary."
"We'll make sure that there are no attacks against civilians during that period," he said.
Adm. Jim Stavridis said prior to the start of the meeting in Brussels that he would recommend the end of the mission.
"As [supreme allied commander] I will be recommending the conclusion of this mission … in a few hours," Stavridis announced on his Facebook page. "A good day for NATO, a great day for the people of Libya."
With the death of Gadhafi, the top NATO official said the group has fulfilled its mandate to protect the people of Libya.
"We will terminate our mission in co-ordination with the United Nations and the National Transitional Council," NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said. "With the reported fall of Bani Walid and Sirte, that moment has now moved much closer."
NATO aircraft have flown about 26,000 sorties, including over 9,600 strike missions, as they attacked Gadhafi's air defences, armoured vehicles and command centres. Canadian forces have flown about 10 per cent of those missions.
On Thursday, a U.S. drone and French fighter jets, flying as part of the NATO mission, apparently played a part in the end of Gadhafi. The drone and the fighter jets attacked a convoy of vehicles that were trying to leave the besieged city of Sirte. After the air attack, opposition forces moved in and eventually captured Gadhafi.
He later died, apparently from a stray bullet to the head, senior officials in the Libyan transitional government have said, though questions remain about the circumstances of Gadhafi's death.
NATO said in statement issued Friday that it was unaware Gadhafi had been in the convoy when the air attack was carried out.
With files from The Associated Press