March 27, 2011
TRIPOLI, March 27 (Xinhua) — The ongoing air strikes launched by major Western powers have not only destroyed much of Libya’s air defense systems and military facilities but also increased the risk of civilian casualties.
As air strikes have become a routine, more and more innocent souls were killed in the war.
Since the multinational air campaign began on March 19, at around eight or nine o’clock each evening, Western warplanes would thunder over Tripoli and surrounding areas, followed by loud explosions and anti-aircraft gunfire.
Orange bursts of anti-aircraft tracer shells streaked across the sky, as air strikes and anti-aircraft flak lasted off and on for three or four hours.
In the first four days of the air campaign alone, a total of 336 sorties were carried out by the Western coalition forces, including 108 for military strikes.
As many of Libya’s military facilities are built in or near the residential areas, innocent civilians inevitably get hurt or killed in the air raids.
Since the air strikes were launched, every day there have been reports of civilian casualties and also there has been TV footage of heartbroken mothers trying desperately to find out the fate of their loved ones.
Many foreign workers left behind after the air strikes began now want to leave soon.
A Pakistani electrician working at a hotel in Tripoli asked for help from a Xinhua reporter.
“I want to leave the country,” said the man surnamed Tahil. “I have 3,000 Libyan dinars (about 2,500 U.S. dollars), would you please help me change them into dollars?”
He said he would end up in prison if given away.
Though as many as 300,000 foreigner workers have been evacuated from the country, more have stayed behind.
Just for the sake of 3,000 dinars, Tahil chose to stay, but now he decided to leave because of the worsening situation there.
Unfortunately, his homecoming has become increasingly difficult as there are currently no commercial flights after the UN Security Council adopted Resolution 1973 on March 17 imposing a no-fly zone over Libya.
Unlike Tahil, Fatima, a 24-year-old Libyan-born Moroccan girl, said she would stay.
“I will stay here. At this moment, I can’t leave. I love Libya,” said Fatima, who is a cleaner in the hotel.
On Thursday, a burial service was held for 13 civilians killed in the Western-led air strikes in the Tajoura district, east of Tripoli.
The civilian death toll from five days of Western-led air strikes had reached almost 100, the Libyan government said later in the day.
More than a week after the military action, international concerns are rising that the air strikes might drag on for a long time.
Many in the west fear the military intervention would turn into a quagmire, like the one in Iraq.