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Tuesday, April 12

Libya Stalemate

Here's the best overview of the military situation in Libya, as it stood yesterday. NATO is boxed in militarily as are the rebels and Gadhafi's forces:

CNN's THE SITUATION ROOM with Wolf Blitzer, anchor

Aired April 11, 2011 - 17:00 ET



WOLF BLITZER: Let's go to the military operation underway in Libya right now. A new U.S. concerns, a stalemate could be emerging. Our Pentagon correspondent, Chris Lawrence is joining us with this part of the story. What's the latest, Chris?

CHRIS LAWRENCE, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, one senior U.S. official tells us that there's almost no chance that Libya's rebels can move further along on the ground towards Tripoli, and yet, another official tells us that Moammar Gadhafi's forces cannot undertake a major ground offensive. So, where does that leave you?


LAWRENCE (voice-over): Nobody wants to call it a stalemate, but U.S. officals privately say the rebels are holding Ajdabiya but don't have the organization, weapons, or manpower to move on. Gadhafi holds Brega, but air strikes have a destroyed a third of his ground armor and cut into his supply lines. U.S. and NATO officials now believed neither side can move. They also say it can't go on like this. If it does, al Qaeda is almost sure to take advantage.

ANDERS FOGH RASMUSSEN, NATO SECRETARY-GENERAL: If this ends up in a stalemate that eventually could also make Libya a failed state, that could become a breeding ground for terrorists and extremists.

LAWRENCE: In a political term, there's no such thing as a tie.

WILLIAM COHEN, FORMER DEFENSE SECRETARY: A stalemate would be a defeat. I think for the president and in terms of his stated goal of seeing Gadhafi leave.

LAWRENCE: Former Defense Secretary William Cohen says NATO must do more militarily.

COHEN: That would intensify the military operations.

LAWRENCE: U.S. and NATO officials have information notes civilians being killed, but Gadhafi's forces are enough now so mixed in so with civilians it's impossible to launch air strikes against them, unless, you use low flying aircraft that can fire extremely accurately, the kind that U.S.S. stop flying now that it is not leading the mission. In addition, Gadhafi may still have as many as 15,000 shoulder fired missiles. It's why NATO secretary-general now says there's no way to fight its way out of this.

RASMUSSEN: I want to be clear that there can be no solid military solution to the crisis in Libya.


LAWRENCE (voice-over): Especially when it's getting harder for NATO to even tell the two sides apart. For example, last Thursday, NATO warplanes accidently bombed the rebels because they didn't know that the rebels now had tanks -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Chris Lawrence at the Pentagon, thank you.


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