Libyan rebel advance checked by NATO strike leaflets

Tue Jun 14, 2011 5:11pm GMT

* NATO leaflets meant for Gaddafi dropped on rebel positions

* Air war dogged by poor coordination with rebel forces

* Rebels trying to advance from Misrata to Tripoli

By Matt Robinson

DAFNIYA, Libya, June 14 (Reuters) - Rebels trying to advance from the Libyan port city of Misrata towards the capital were stopped in their tracks on Tuesday when NATO warplanes showered them with leaflets warning of air strikes by combat helicopters.

Rebels said the leaflets, seen by Reuters and plainly meant for forces loyal to Muammar Gaddafi, fell directly on positions the rebels had seized in fighting over the past several days in a painstaking advance towards the town of Zlitan, 160 kilometres east of Tripoli.

Some pulled back, fearing NATO planes flying at 15,000 feet might have mistaken them for the enemy.

The episode was indicative of the problems of coordination that have dogged the almost 3-month-old air war, waged from high altitude in support of a ground force of poorly organised rebels pushing in fits and starts through the olive groves and farmland of the Libyan coastline.   Continued...

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