13 Libyan rebels reported dead after coalition airstrike
NATO is investigating opposition reports that 13 Libyan rebels are dead following an accidental strike by coalition jets.
A convoy of five rebel cars was reportedly hit by an airstrike about 20 kilometres east of the town of Brega after opposition forces allegedly fired into the air.
Abdel-Hafidh Ghoga, a spokesperson for the opposition, said the dead rebels were hit Friday night as they tried to beat off Gadhafi's forces and reclaim the oil city of Brega.
As a result of the bombing that is ongoing, a further seven fighters were injured.
Ghoga said the incident showed the lack of coordination among rank and file soldiers, who are staring down a professional Libyan military.
"This unfortunate accident was a mistake that was caused by the rebels' advance during the coalition's attack," Ghoga said. "Now the military leadership that has been organized more effectively recently is working on preventing the recurrence of these accidents."
CTV's Janis Mackey Frayer echoed his comments saying that the gunfire from the convoy could have been the result of celebrations.
"There was apparent some anti-aircraft gunfire from one of those cars perhaps in celebration, of what we're not sure," said Frayer, reporting from the rebel stronghold of Benghazi on Saturday.
Mohammad Bedrise, a doctor in a nearby hospital, said three burned bodies had been brought in by men who said they had been hit after firing a heavy machine-gun into the air in celebration.
Oana Lungescu, a NATO spokesperson, appeared to suggest that its aircraft on patrol had been retaliating after encountering fire from the ground.
"The exact details are hard to verify because we have no reliable source on the ground," Lungescu said. "Clearly, if someone fires at one of our aircraft they have the right to defend themselves."
Lungescu said the alliance is currently investigating the incident.
Opposition spokesperson Mustafa Gheriani said the rebels expect "mistakes" to happen.
"As regrettable as it may be, we understand that we might have to give up lives for the greater good. We have to look at the bigger picture," he said. "This is a war and the lines are so fluid going back and forth, so it's natural that mistakes will happen."
The incident comes as U.S. forces prepare to withdraw from the air war over Libya, leaving the airstrikes under the leadership of NATO.
Elsewhere, in Ajdabiya, in the only western Libyan city still in the hands of rebels, medical officials say that 243 people are now dead and more than 1,000 wounded after weeks of intense shelling by Gadhafi's forces.
They say government forces continue to hit Misrata with artillery, tank shells and sniper fire. One doctor said six people were killed Saturday, and Gadhafi's forces appeared to be deliberately targeting civilians.
With files from Associated Press