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Libyan battle 'heading toward a stalemate'

The US’ most senior army official made the comments even as he said that 30-40 per cent of pro-Gaddafi ground forces in Libya had been destroyed.

The remains of a Libyan rebel flag flutters in the outskirts of Ajdabiya, Libya on Friday.
The remains of a Libyan rebel flag flutters in the outskirts of Ajdabiya, Libya on Friday.
Image: Bernat Armangue/AP/Press Association Images

THE MOST SENIOR US soldier Admiral Mike Mullen has said that the battle in Libya is moving towards stalemate even as it was revealed that 30 to 40 per cent of government ground forces have been degraded.

Addressing US troops during a visit to the Iraqi capital of Baghdad, Admiral Mullen said: ”It’s certainly moving toward a stalemate,” Reuters reports.

He added that the NATO imposed no fly zone had had some success saying: “we’ve attrited somewhere between 30 and 40 percent of his main ground forces, his ground force capabilities. Those will continue to go away over time.”

Admiral Mullen said there appeared to be no sign of elements of the terrorist organisation Al Qaeda in the Libyan opposition, which has been battling troops loyal to Colonel Muammar Gaddafi since February, reports the BBC.

Mullen added: “We’re watchful of it, mindful of it [Al Qaeda] and I just haven’t seen much of it at all. In fact, I’ve seen no al-Qaeda representation there at all.”

Meanwhile, US senator John McCain visited the rebel stronghold of Benghazi today. He is the most senior US official to do so since the conflict began.

McCain, a former Republican presidential candidate, called on all countries to recognise the rebels’ Transitional National Council as “the legitimate voice of the Libyan people”, and to offer weapons and training.

The comment came on a day it was revealed that unmanned armed drone aircraft are being deployed in Libya to attack pro-Gaddafi forces but US and NATO allies have so far given little indication that a ground invasion is likely in Libya.

It has also been reported that rebels gained control of central Misrata, driving dozens of snipers from tall buildings in hours of urban warfare.

AP reports witnesses as saying the rebels gained a tactical advantage in the only major city held by the opposition in western Libya.

- with additional reporting from AP

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Hugh O'Connell

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