RAF Typhoons boost Libyan campaign
The RAF is to divert four of its Typhoon fighters to ground attack operations in Libya amid complaints from the rebel leaders that Nato is not doing enough to protect them.
The Typhoons, based at Gioia del Colle in southern Italy, had been policing the no-fly zone while the RAF's Tornado GR4s carried out attacks on Colonel Muammar Gaddafi's ground forces.
But with the Libyan air force apparently unwilling to risk a confrontation with the alliance, the Ministry of Defence said that four Typhoons will now be used to bolster Nato's ground attack capability.
The move follows the announcement on Monday by Prime Minister David Cameron that Britain is sending four more Tornado GR4s to region. The RAF now has 20 fighter aircraft committed to the operation.
The rebel military's chief of staff Abdel-Fattah Younis has complained that Nato's bureaucratic procedures mean that it can take eight hours for the alliance to respond to a request for air support.
He said that Nato could have lifted the siege of the western Libyan city of Misrata weeks ago if it had wanted to.
"The people will die and this crime will be on the face of the international community forever. What is Nato doing?" he said.
A Nato spokeswoman dismissed the criticism, saying the number of airstrikes is increasing every day while Misrata remains a priority of the air campaign.
Carmen Romero said the alliance flew 137 missions on Monday, 186 on Tuesday, and had planned 198 for Wednesday. However, she also stressed the importance of avoiding civilian casualties and that all operations are carried out "in a very vigilant way".
The MoD said that RAF Tornado GR4s on Tuesday attacked targets around Misrata and Gaddafi's home city of Sirte, hitting a total of six armoured fighting vehicles and six battle tanks.