Red Cross: Civilian Casualties Rising in Libya

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Libyan civilians have been increasingly bearing the brunt of the fighting between Moammar Gadhafi's army and rebel forces, according to the International Red Cross.
Red Cross President Jakob Kellenberger said that dozens of people have been killed or wounded in the conflict over the past few days.

"We have now a non-international armed conflict, or what you would call civil war," Kellenberger said. "We see increasing numbers of wounded arriving at hospitals in the east and we are extremely worried."

Doctors in the city of Ajdabiya operated on 55 people this past week.  Red Cross teams said they were cut off from western areas, where they believe there are more severely injured victims.

Meanwhile, the fight to oust Gadhafi has intensified on a front line, where rebels hit government forces with heavy weapons as they pressed toward the country's capital city of Tripoli.

Opposition fighters also fought for diplomatic advantage against the dictator.  So far, they've managed to win official recognition of their newly formed Interim Governing Council from France. 

"It breaks the ice," said Mustafa Gheriani, an opposition spokesman. "We expect Italy to do it, and we expect England to do it." 

As the civil conflict continued to rage, Western powers continued debate whether to protect the rebels from Libya's air force by implementing a no-fly zone over some or all of the country.

NATO has already begun 24-7 surveillance of the air space over the North African nation.

"We have extended surveillance in the Mediterranean," NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said in Brussels Thursday, where NATO and the European Union are holding a meeting on the situation in Libya.
"Having our AWACS monitoring the situation 24/7, will provide us with a better picture of what is going on and of course this improved picture is a prerequisite for evaluating the situation accurately," he added.

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