NATO to rebels: If you kill civilians, we'll bomb you too

There appear to be less than a thousand Libyan rebels according to one report. Evidently, some of them can get very enthusiastic when confronting unarmed civilians.

This has NATO wagging its finger, telling the jihadists not to take out their frustrations on innocent people. Otherwise, reluctantly, they will be forced to obliterate them.

This shouldn't prove to be too difficult. By the looks of them, a moderately armed bunch of Eagle Scouts could probably take them down.

The New York Times:

Members of the NATO alliance have sternly warned the rebels in Libya not to attack civilians as they push against the government of Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi, according to senior military and government officials.

As NATO takes over control of airstrikes in Libya, and the Obama administration considers new steps to tip the balance of power there, the coalition has told the rebels that if they endanger civilians, they will not be shielded from possible bombardment by NATO planes and missiles, just as the government's forces have been punished.

"We've been conveying a message to the rebels that we will be compelled to defend civilians, whether pro-Qaddafi or pro-opposition," said a senior Obama administration official. "We are working very hard behind the scenes with the rebels so we don't confront a situation where we face a decision to strike the rebels to defend civilians."

The warnings, and intense consultations within the NATO-led coalition over its rules for attacking anyone who endangers innocent civilians, come at a time when the civil war in Libya is becoming ever more chaotic, and the battle lines ever less distinct. They raise a fundamental question that the military is now grappling with: who in Libya is a civilian?

Good question, no good answers. There is still a strong pro-Gaddafi nucleus in the west of Libya while the east seems more inclined to want to get rid of him, but not necessarily leaving this bunch of rebels in charge.

Some of these issues were bound to come up after we began the fight, but others should have been resolved prior to going in. Even though we have CIA and other intelligence assets in country, we apparently know little more about the Libyan opposition than we knew 2 weeks ago, although I would bet that we know by now who are the extremists. Wouldn't surprise anyone if they were the ones doing the killing of pro-Gaddafi civilians.

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