Gaddafi loyalists plant bodies at attack sites, says U.S. defense secretary

U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates has said intelligence reports indicate that Muammar Gaddafi’s forces are planting dead bodies of civilians at sites attacked by coalition forces.

“We do have a lot of intelligence reporting about Gaddafi taking the bodies of the people he’s killed and putting them at the sites where we’ve attacked,” Gates said in an interview with CBS News published on its website on Saturday.

Coalition forces have been “extremely careful in this military effort,” Gates said, dismissing reports by Libyan state media outlets that dozens of civilians have been killed by allied airstrikes in the North African country.

Libyan military officials have said the international coalition’s warplanes attack both military and civilian targets in Libya. They have accused the coalition forces’ of coordinating their actions with the rebels in order to pave their way to oil facilities.

The international coalition launched its military operation in Libya last Saturday, after the UN Security Council passed a resolution imposing a no-fly zone over Libya and authorizing “all necessary measures” to protect the country’s civilians from attacks by pro-Gaddafi forces.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton confirmed on Friday that NATO would assume command and control of the no-fly zone over Libya within days. Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini has said NATO is likely to take over the command of the operation on Sunday or Monday.

MOSCOW, March 27 (RIA Novosti)

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