NATO set for quick exit out of Libya

Nato is set to end its seven-month campaign in Libya within days.

Secretary general Anders Fogh Rasmussen said the international military mission would start winding down at the end of the month.

"We have taken a preliminary decision to end Operation Unified Protector on October 31," he said after a meeting yesterday of the alliance's governing body, the North Atlantic Council.

"We will take a formal decision early next week."


Air patrols are set to continue over Libya during the next 10 days as a "precautionary measure" to ensure the stability of the new regime.

They will gradually be reduced in coming days if there are no further outbreaks of fighting with forces loyal to the ousted dictator.

Mr Rasmussen hailed the success of the Nato mission in which most of the aerial sorties were carried out by British and French warplanes.

"It shows that freedom is the biggest force in the world," he said.

In all Nato warplanes have flown about 26,000 sorties, including over 9,600 strike missions.

They destroyed about 5,900 military targets, including Libya's air defences and over 1,000 tanks, vehicles and guns, as well as Gaddafi's command and control networks.