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Nato: Libya bombing will continue

Nato's bombing campaign in Libya will continue despite the collapse of Muammar Gaddafi's regime, alliance officials have said.

French defence minister Gerard Longuet said the air strikes will not stop until all remaining pockets of resistance are suppressed and the new government asks for them to end.

Although the former rebels now control most of Libya, some regions remain under control of pro-Gaddafi forces. These include Sirte on the Mediterranean coast, the city of Bani Walid and parts of the south.

"Sirte has an extremely symbolic value, but it's not all of Libya," Mr Longuet said as he arrived for the second and final day of a Brussels conference of defence ministers of Nato nations.

"There is pro-Gaddafi resistance in Bani Walid and dispersed resistance in the south of the country."

Nato has carried out more than 9,300 air strikes against Gaddafi's forces since the campaign started in March. The military alliance has been criticised for allegedly overstepping a UN Security Council resolution that created a no-fly zone and authorised the protection of civilians caught up in the fighting.

Discussions at the ministers' meeting have focused on Libya and Afghanistan, where Nato is extricating itself from a 10-year war against Taliban insurgents.

"This is an important moment for Afghanistan," Nato Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said. "Transition is on track and it will not be derailed."

Nato and its partner nations have started drawing down their 140,000 troops and turning over security responsibilities to Afghanistan's army and police. The process is due to end in 2014, when foreign troops end their combat role.

Although outnumbered, the Taliban have mounted a series of high-profile attacks that have brought into question Nato's claim that it has the upper hand.


From Belfast Telegraph