NATO defended its mission in Libya on Tuesday, saying it saved lives and was strictly in line with the UN mandate.
“We took every precaution to minimize the risk to civilians with solid intelligence, a very strict target selection and precision-guided munitions,” NATO Spokesperson Oana Lungescu said. “And we repeatedly warned civilians to stay away from military installations and equipment.”
“Our mission for Libya saved countless lives and we have regularly informed the United Nations on its conduct in full compliance with UNSCR 1973.”
Russia’s UN envoy Vitaly Churkin called on Monday for a probe into the deaths of civilians killed by NATO air strikes during the military campaign in Libya.
His remarks came after The New York Times claimed up to 70 people were killed in Libya during NATO’s eight-month military operation.
Lungescu said NATO took claims of civilian casualties very seriously, and was looking at such evidence carefully.
However, any such claims are the responsibility of Libya’s new government, she said.
“There is now a legitimate government in Libya, and the primary responsibility for looking into such claims and for follow-up action lies with the Libyan authorities.”
NATO is in regular contact with the authorities but, as of yet, it has had no request from them to look into these incidents, Lungescu said.
The international NATO-led military operation in Libya began on March 19, two days after the approval of a UN resolution on "targeted measures" to protect civilians.
The country saw almost ten months of fierce fighting before the rebel Libyan National Transitional Council established control over the country's territory.
The ousted Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi was killed in October near his hometown of Sirte after being captured by NTC forces.