NATO has released a tick tock of the airstrikes Wednesday in Sirte that struck 11 vehicles in two convoys fleeing the city that turned out to include Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi. Although it doesn’t reveal the nationalities of the aircraft, French Defense Minister Longuet’s comments help figure it out.
An 80-vehicle convoy was spotted fleeing the city, according to Longuet, and a French fighter was sent to fire a warning shot to stop the convoy. NATO says that strike “resulted in many vehicles dispersing and changing direction.”
One of the groups was made up of 20 vehicles headed away from Sirte at great speed. Another asset – an American Predator drone – was used to engage these vehicles, 10 of which were struck in this attack.
“At the time of the strike, NATO did not know that Gadhafi was in the convoy,” Longuet said. “NATO’s intervention was conducted solely to reduce the threat toward the civilian population, as required to do under our UN mandate. As a matter of policy, NATO does not target individuals. We later learned from open sources and Allied intelligence that Gadhafi was in the convoy and that the strike likely contributed to his capture.”
Here is the full statement:
NATO strike in Sirte area 20 October 2011
NAPLES – Now that NATO has had the opportunity to conduct a post strike assessment of yesterday’s strike, we are able to provide a more comprehensive picture of events.
At approximately 08h30 local time (GMT+2) on Thursday 20 October 2011, NATO aircraft struck 11 pro-Qadhafi military vehicles which were part of a larger group of approximately 75 vehicles manoeuvring in the vicinity of Sirte. These armed vehicles were leaving Sirte at high speed and were attempting to force their way around the outskirts of the city. The vehicles were carrying a substantial amount of weapons and ammunition posing a significant threat to the local civilian population.
The convoy was engaged by a NATO aircraft to reduce the threat. Initially, only one vehicle was destroyed, which disrupted the convoy and resulted in many vehicles dispersing and changing direction.
After the disruption, a group of approximately 20 vehicles continued at great speed to proceed in a southerly direction, due west of Sirte, and continuing to pose a significant threat. NATO engaged these vehicles with another air asset. The post strike assessment revealed that approximately 10 pro-Qadhafi vehicles were destroyed or damaged.
At the time of the strike, NATO did not know that Qadhafi was in the convoy. NATO’s intervention was conducted solely to reduce the threat towards the civilian population, as required to do under our UN mandate. As a matter of policy, NATO does not target individuals.
We later learned from open sources and Allied intelligence that Qadhafi was in the convoy and that the strike likely contributed to his capture.
NATO does not divulge specific information on national assets involved in operations.