Russia urges NATO to lay off Libyan civilian targets

Russia on Monday urged NATO to stop targeting civilian objects in Libya, amid reports that a NATO airstrike on the capital of Tripoli hit buildings in Col. Muammar Gaddafi's compound.

NATO has been bombarding Gaddafi's forces under a UN-mandated no-fly zone to protect civilians. The alliance said it had stepped up strikes around Tripoli and four other cities in recent days.

"The no-fly zone does not stipulate hitting ground targets," Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told reporters after talks with South Ossetian President Eduard Kokoity in the breakaway Georgian republic's capital of Tskhinvali.

"The resolution does not stipulate targeting civilian targets or targets not related to the military," he said.

Two powerful missiles badly damaged Gaddafi's Bab al-Aziziyah compound early on Monday, Al Jazeera reported.

On Sunday, Gaddafi's forces shelled areas of the port city of Misurata, the only major rebel-held city in western Libya, despite the government saying it had halted fighting so that local tribes could negotiate with the rebels.

At least 36 people were killed by the Libyan government's pounding of Misurata over the weekend.

Lavrov also criticized Libya's rebel Transitional National Council for refusing to negotiate with the government, adding that such a stance amounted to "asking for a civil war."

Kuwait on Sunday announced it was giving $177.2 million to the rebels.

[Source: Ria Novosti, Tskhinvali, 25Apr11]

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