Russia's Lavrov says NATO strikes in Libya violate UN resolution

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov sharply criticized NATO operations in Libya, saying alliance aircraft were pounding civilian targets in violation of United Nations rules.

'There are far too many violations of the resolution of the United Nations Security Council,' Larvov told Russian reporters during a visit to Kazakhstan. 'These things are unacceptable.'

NATO in recent weeks has intensified its air campaign against military forces controlled by Libyan leader Moamer Gaddafi.

The airstrikes, which began in March, were designed to prevent government troops from massacring civilians.

NATO has since began targeting Libyan government command centres and weapons depots.

Lavrov said the new waves of airstrikes were also hitting hospitals and diplomatic missions in Libya by accident, as well as government installations that according to Russia are off limit targets in terms of UN rules.

'At the end of the day the Security Council did not sanction this, and the justifications they (NATO) are making to claim they have not exceeded the limits of the (UN) mandate are insufficient,' Lavrov said.

Russia was supported in this opinion by India, Brazil, China and South Africa, he said.

Air forces from the United States, Britain, and France intervened in Libya's conflict on March 19.

Since then Belgium, Canada, the Netherlands, Italy, Jordan, Norway, Qatar, Sweden, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates have contributed combat aircraft to the NATO-led air campaign.

Mahmoud Jibril, a leader of Libya's opposition forces, on Thursday praised NATO's recently-intensified air operations, saying he thought 'NATO strikes lately are more effective, more responsive, more quick.'

[Source: Deutsche Presse-Agentur, Moscow, Monsters and Critics, 13May11]

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