A U.N. resolution justifies the killing of Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi, a senior NATO military official reportedly told CNN Thursday.
The NATO official said that Qaddafi would be included in the resolution and is a legitimate target because he is head of the military and therefore part of the control and command structure.
The officer declined to comment on whether Qaddafi was being targeted by NATO’s airstrikes.
Libya has seen months of violence as government forces and rebels have battled for control over the country.
A U.N. mandate in March paved the way for NATO to carry out a campaign in Libya to protect civilians targeted by Qaddafi.
NATO has recently stepped up its campaign and began using attack helicopters to intensify its strikes. The French and British helicopters were seen as a serious attempt to escalate pressure on Gaddafi, the Financial Times reports.
Arguing that Qaddafi’s collapse could be imminent, allied countries pledged as much as $1 billion Thursday to support the rebels when they have the chance to take over the country, the New York Times reports.
“Qaddafi’s days are well and truly numbered,” Australia’s foreign minister, Kevin Rudd, reportedly said Thursday after meeting with more than 30 nations involved in the fight. He said the opposition must therefore be prepared to take power.
“This is no longer an academic proposition,” he said. “It is a real proposition and one we may be facing sooner than many of you in this room may think.”
Rebels as well as much of the international community have called for Qaddafi to step down, but he has refused to do so. He made a televised address Tuesday in which he vowed to fight until the end.
“We only have one choice: we will stay in our land dead or alive,” he said on state television, as NATO intensified daytime air raids.
Referring to the planes flying overhead and explosions around him, Qaddafi reportedly said: “We are stronger than your missiles, stronger than your planes and the voice of the Libyan people is louder than explosions.”