Russia seeks UN probe into Nato airstrikes

Russia is "deeply disturbed" about Nato's aerial campaign in Libya because it has overstepped the intent of the UN resolution that authorized the strikes, a Russian official said on Tuesday.

Attacks on nonmilitary targets such as the main TV station and Tripoli airport call into question Nato's ability to implement the resolution that authorized the use of force to protect civilians, the diplomat said on condition of anonymity in keeping with his job's rules.

He said Russia is "deeply disturbed by the destruction of infrastructure and especially power supplies on territory controlled by the government."

The diplomat said in a telephone interview that Russia wants the UN to investigate an airstrike that allegedly killed 85 civilians earlier this month. Nato has denied the Libyan government's claim that the alliance killed civilians in the attack on an agricultural building allegedly being used for military purposes, saying the casualties were soldiers and mercenaries.

During the past month, Nato's conduct of the 5-month-long campaign has come under increasing international condemnation. Critics claim the daily bombings have gone far beyond the limited mandate provided by a Security Council resolution, which authorized a no-fly zone and the protection of civilians caught up in the civil unrest.

Russia, China, India, Brazil and South Africa have denounced the bombing of forces loyal to Moammar Gadhafi, even when they are fighting defensive battles against advancing rebels.

In addition, the UN's cultural and educational agency and several human rights and media protection groups have lambasted Nato over the daily airstrikes and particularly the raid against the state-run TV station.

A Nato spokesman denied that the alliance was overstepping its mandate.

"We take the side of the people of Libya," Col. Roland Lavoie said Tuesday. "When we strike a tank, it is because we understand it does represent a threat to the local population."

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