Conflict in Libya is 'moving to stalemate'
Published 23/04/2011 | 05:00
Coalition air strikes have degraded Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi's main ground forces by between 30pc and 40pc, but the conflict is becoming deadlocked, the top US military officer said yesterday.
"It's certainly moving towards a stalemate," said Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the US military's Joint Chiefs of Staff, addressing US troops during a visit to Baghdad.
"At the same time we've degraded somewhere between 30pc and 40pc of his main ground forces, his ground-force capabilities. Those will continue to go away over time."
He said the fight had become much harder as the Libyan military changed tactics, trying to appear like rebels to avoid being targeted. He said the battle was already "very much a stalemate -- like in the vicinity of Ajdabiya and Brega".
Admiral Mullen, who arrived in Baghdad on Thursday for talks with Iraqi leaders and to visit US troops, said the international consensus was that "Gaddafi's gotta go". But he acknowledged it was unclear how long it might take for that to happen. "Every single action that countries are taking . . . are going to continue to put the squeeze on him until he's gone. Is he going to figure that out? I don't know."
Some US officials have voiced concerns about potential Islamic extremism among opposition forces.
But Admiral Mullen said there was no sign of al-Qa'ida representation in Libya's opposition and played down concerns about any militant groups edging their way into the Libyan conflict.