NATO Will Not Apologize for Bombing Libyan Rebels by Accident [Updated]

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Rebels mourn losses from a NATO air strike.
Rebels mourn losses from a NATO air strike. Photo: Odd Andersen/Getty Images

NATO air support has been crucial to sustaining the Libyan uprising, but it was the opposite of helpful when NATO mistakenly bombed a convoy of rebel tanks between the towns of Brega and Ajdabiya yesterday, "killing at least five fighters and destroying or damaging a number of armored vehicles." Not that NATO is sorry about it:

"It would appear that two of our strikes yesterday may have resulted in (rebel) deaths," [Rear Admiral Russell Harding] told reporters in Naples where the alliance's operational center is located.

"I am not apologizing," Harding said. "The situation on the ground was and remains extremely fluid, and until yesterday we did not have information that (rebel) forces are using tanks."

It was an accident, of course, but even the most minor and inconsequential accidents often produce apologies. If you bump into someone on the subway, you'll mutter, "Sorry." If you miss a phone call, you'll say, "Sorry I missed your call." If you eat your roommate's leftover pizza, you'll lie and say, "Sorry, I thought that was my pizza." But an apology for killing the wrong people is asking too much.

No apology after NATO jets kill Libya rebels [MSNBC]

Update: Someone else from NATO has decided to apologize, to a certain degree:


But later the secretary general of NATO, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, expressed his remorse over the mix-up. “This is a very unfortunate incident,” he said at NATO headquarters in Brussels. “And I strongly regret the loss of life.”

Also, here's British Foreign Secretary William Hague:

"It does no harm to apologize for it, we should say we are sorry about that .... I don't think it will cost NATO anything to apologize, so I hope they will do that."