According to the Libyan government, 85 civilians were killed in NATO air strikes in a village called Majer, 10km south of Zlitan, on Monday.
Here is a very graphic (!) video which shows the mutilated, dead bodies of the victims, including children.
NATO dismissed the government’s report as usual, saying that they had no evidence of civilian casualties. They added that the targets were “two former farm buildings, which have been taken over by pro-Gaddafi forces and transformed into a field military complex.”
Now why do they claim that no civilians died? Last week, when Libyan insurgents falsely reported Khamis Gaddafi’s killing during another air strike, NATO commented that they “cannot confirm anything […] because [they] don’t have people on the ground”.
This time around, they’re leaving out this important bit of information, as they’re not telling us that, really, they have no clue about how many people died and whether they were soldiers or not. What they say this time is that there is no “evidence of civilian casualties at this stage.” Which makes sense, since they probably don’t have any evidence at all. Missy Ryan writes in a recent Reuters article:
While NATO said there was no proof civilians had been killed, it is virtually impossible for the alliance to verify who is killed in such strikes.
Usually, NATO suggests that reports of civilian deaths by the Libyan government are propaganda. Which is outrageous, and NATO knows it better really. Like from their war in Afghanistan, where 3 out of 4 direct war casualties are civilians. Civilian deaths are a well-known by-product of war, but it’s not something that the public should know about, lest their support gets even smaller.
Just tonight, the Libyan government took some Western reporters from Tripoli to Zliten, among them CNN reporter Ivan Watson. Watson said in a tweet just after his visit:
I saw 5 bombed out houses, woman in hospital w/leg amputated, 2 men who each lost a daughter, morgue packed w/at least 28 bodies
- Zhang Xiang (9 Aug 2011). “NATO dismisses report of Libyan civilian casualties in air strikes”. Xinhua News Agency.
- Lutfi Abu-Aun and Robert Birsel (5 Aug 2011). “Libya denies report Gaddafi’s son Khamis killed by NATO”. Reuters.