Breaking ranks with most other western allies, Italy has called for the end of fighting in Libya.
The Italian foreign minister Franco Frattini has urged a suspension of hostilities in Libya so that humanitarian relief and aid can be transported into the war-battered nation. He also asked NATO to provide data showing that its bombing missions are working effectively and not killing innocent civilians.
We cannot run the risk of killing civilians. This is not good at all, Frattini told other European foreign ministers.
Later, in the lower house of the Italian parliament, Frattini said: With regard to NATO, it is fair to ask for increasingly detailed information on results as well as precise guidelines on the dramatic errors involving civilians.”
Reportedly, a NATO missile killed several civilians in a residential area on Sunday. On Monday, Frattini warned that more such accidental deaths would put NATO’s credibility at great risk.
Similarly, Amr Moussa, the chairman of the Arab League has also called for a ceasefire in Libya, expressing his own concerns about NATO’s military campaign.
Moussa told the Guardian newspaper of Britain: When I see children being killed, I must have misgivings. That's why I warned about the risk of civilian casualties. You can't have a decisive ending. Now is the time to do whatever we can to reach a political solution.”
Italy’s opinion on the Libyan campaign carries great weight since they provide most of the military bases from which NATO aircraft launch their missions from.
However, even if other NATO members secretly share Frattini’s concerns about civilian causalities in Libya, they’re unlikely to halt the bombing campaign anytime soon.
A spokes man for the French foreign ministry told Agence France Presse that pulling out of Libya “would allow Moammar Gaddafi to gain time and reorganize. In the end, it would be the civilian population that would suffer from the smallest sign of weakness on our behalf.
Also, NATO, while conceding some civilian deaths, defended its performance in Libya.
If you look at our track record, we have taken utmost care to avoid civilian casualties and we will continue to do so, said NATO spokesman Oana Lungescu in a statement.
Mike Bracken, the NATO mission's military spokesman, said that the alliance’s reputation and credibility is unquestionable. What is questionable is the Gaddafi regime's use of human shields, [and] firing missiles from mosques.