EXCLUSIVE: Libyans Use Journalists as Human Shields

By , Justin Fishel

Published March 21, 2011

| FoxNews.com

Editor's Note: Following publication of the original story (below), Fox News Pentagon correspondent Jennifer Griffin reported that fellow correspondent Steve Harrigan, reporting from Tripoli, chose not join the government-organized tour of the damaged compound, though a security guard hired by Fox News did accompany the group.

EXCLUSIVE:  An attack on the compound of Libyan leader Muammar al-Qaddafi on Sunday had to be curtailed because of journalists nearby, Fox News has learned.

British sources confirmed that seven Storm Shadow missiles were ready to be fired from a British aircraft, but the strikes had to be curtailed due to crews from CNN, Reuters and other organizations nearby. Officials from Libya's Ministry of Information brought those journalists to the area to show them damage from the initial attack and to effectively use them as human shields.

The curtailment of this mission led to a great deal of consternation by coalition commanders, sources told Fox News, but they opted to call off the mission to avoid civilian casualties.

During a Pentagon briefing on Monday, coalition commanders said the huge compound was targeted due to its air defense systems on the perimeter and a military command and control center. It was not targeted to kill Qaddafi, commanders said.

Meanwhile, U.S. military officials said on Monday that Qatar is sending six planes to Libya to participate in support missions, becoming the third Arab nation to send aircraft to the African nation. The United Arab Emirates (UAE) also announced on Monday that its role in Libya is "strictly confined" to the delivery of humanitarian assistance in Libya.

In coordination with Turkey, the United Arab Emirates has sent a ship loaded with medical and humanitarian aid to Libya -- in addition to two UAE planes sent to the country last week.

The U.N.-approved no-fly zone over Libya is working and will soon be expanded to Tripoli as aircraft from additional coalition countries arrive in the region, the head of U.S. Africa Command said on Monday.

U.S. Army General Carter Ham told a Pentagon briefing that coalition air forces were continuing missions to sustain the no-fly zone and that Libyan ground forces were moving south from rebel-held Benghazi showing "little will or capability" to operate.

Ham said U.S. and U.K. forces launched another 12 Tomahawk cruise missiles over the past 24 hours at sites controlled by Qaddafi. The targets included regime command and control facilities, a surface-to-surface missile site and an air defense station, according to Ham, the operation commander who added that there was no direct coordination among allies and anti-Qaddafi rebels.

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http://www.foxnews.com/world/2011/03/21/exclusive-libyans-use-journalists-human-shields/