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NATO ending Libya mission

Smoke billows from a suburb of Tripoli on June 4, after NATO warplanes launched intensive air raids the capital.

Story highlights

  • NATO ends its Libya mission Monday
  • The seven-month campaign helped bring an end to Moammar Gadhafi
  • Gadhafi's family says it will file a complaint against NATO
  • The U.N. Security Council voted to end a mandate authorizing the NATO operation

After seven months of an aerial bombing campaign that helped depose Moammar Gadhafi, NATO said Friday it was ending its mission in Libya next week.

The expected announcement from the alliance came a day after the United Nations Security Council rescinded its March mandate for military intervention.

"Today, we confirmed the decision taken by the North Atlantic Council a week ago," said NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen. "Our operation for Libya will end on October 31. Until then, together with our partners, we will continue to monitor the situation. And if needed, we will continue to respond to threats to civilians.

"Libyans have now liberated their country. And they have transformed the region," Rasmussen said. "This is their victory."

Susan Rice, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, said NATO's mission puts Libya on a path to freedom.

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But she tempered her remarks with a word of caution.

    "We're very concerned that, as we move forward, that the authorities make maximum effort to swiftly form an inclusive government that incorporates all aspects of Libyan society, and in which the rights of all Libyan people are fully and thoroughly respected, regardless of their gender, their religion, their region of origin," Rice said after the Security Council vote Thursday.

    "But for the United States, and, I think, for the United Nations Security Council, this closes what I think history will judge to be a proud chapter in the Security Council's history."

    British Foreign Secretary William Hague described the Security Council passage of Resolution 2016 as "another significant milestone towards a peaceful, democratic future for Libya. Ending the no-fly zone and the civilian protection provisions demonstrates that Libya has entered a new era."

    Meanwhile, Gadhafi's relatives plan to file a war crimes complaint with the International Criminal Court against NATO, a lawyer representing the family said Thursday.

    Members of the family believe NATO's actions led to Gadhafi's death last week, Marcel Ceccaldi said.

    "All of the events that have taken place since February 2011 and the murder of Gadhafi, all of this means we are totally in our right to call upon the International Criminal Court," Ceccaldi said.

    The ICC had issued a warrant for Gadhafi's arrest, accusing him of crimes against humanity. It still has warrants out for the arrest of Gadhafi's son, Saif al-Islam Gadhafi, and his brother-in-law and intelligence chief, Abdullah al-Sanussi.

    Questions have been raised about how Gadhafi was killed.

    Amateur videos showed him alive when captured by the opposition. He died from a shot in the head, officials said, but the circumstances surrounding the shot remain unclear.

    Ceccaldi said the Gadhafi family's complaint will be filed in the coming days.

    "Now we will wait and see if the ICC is a judicial system which is independent and impartial," he added.

    NATO's Libya campaign began in March, after the Security Council adopted Resolution 1973, which imposed a no-fly zone in the country's airspace and authorized member states to take measures to protect civilians.

    Meanwhile, U.S. officials announced plans to transport 30 seriously wounded Libyan fighters Saturday to U.S. hospitals in Boston and Germany.

    The National Transitional Council requested the treatment because their wounds can't be treated in Libya, officials said.