Here’s a report from the New York Times that needs to be read by anyone who opposes intervention in Libya, primarily on the grounds that there are always innocent victims in war. Have no doubt, that ever since the Western air attacks on Libya began, the Gaddafi regime has been on the lookout for opportunities to take Western journalists to show the toll that has been taken on ordinary Libyan civilians.
Standing at the grave of an 18-month-old baby on Wednesday, officials of the Qaddafi government presented the first specific and credible case of a civilian death caused by Western airstrikes.
But relatives speaking a few yards away said they blamed Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi and welcomed the bombs.
“No, no, no, this is not from NATO,” one relative said, speaking quietly and on condition of anonymity for fear of retaliation. The Western planes had struck an ammunition depot at a military base nearby, he said, and the explosion had sent a tank shell flying into the bedroom of the baby, a boy, in a civilian’s home. “What NATO is doing is good,” he said, referring to the Western military alliance that is enforcing a no-fly zone in Libya.
The testimony of the boy’s parents, a hole in the wall, damage to the house, quietly grieving family members, and a baby-sized and freshly covered grave appeared to confirm the relative’s account of the death.
That made the baby, Siraj Najib Mohamed Suessi, the first specific and credible civilian death from the airstrikes that the Qaddafi government has presented in 10 days of official statements decrying what they say are widespread casualties.
The Qaddafi government’s press office drove journalists 70 miles to this mountain town south of Tripoli to get to it. But as government minders directed journalists to the house and the grave, several residents approached foreign correspondents to tell them surreptitiously of their hatred of Colonel Qaddafi.
“He is not a man. He is Dracula,” one said. “For 42 years, it has been dark. Anyone who speaks, he kills. But everyone here wants Qaddafi to go.”
The town presented none of the theatrical displays of support for Colonel Qaddafi that usually greet official tours. There were no green flags, Qaddafi posters or chanting crowds, and residents were notably cool to the official tour escorts.