US infiltrates CIA operatives into Libya
Washington: CIA has infiltrated `clandestine operatives` into Libya as part of shadow force to bleed Muammar Gaddafi`s forces and to gather intelligence for military airstrikes.
The American intelligence operatives have been in Libya for several weeks and part of their mandate is to contact and vet the beleaguered rebels, according to US officials.
The CIA operatives are closely working in tandem with dozens of British Special Forces and MI6 Intelligence officials, `New York Times` reported, saying these agents have been directing US and allied airstrikes and garnering intelligence on the locations and movements of Gaddafi`s tank columns, artillery guns and missile installations.
American officials spoke that intelligence gathered of location of Gaddafi`s arsenal and movement of troops inside major towns might help weaken Libya`s military enough to encourage defection.
The Times said that several weeks ago, US President Barack Obama had signed a secret funding authorising the CIA to provide arms and other support to Libyan rebels.
"But weapons have not yet been shipped to Libya, as Obama Administration debates the effects of giving them to the rebel groups", the paper said.
Quoting officials, Times said that as the goal of Libyan campaign is not explicitly clear, the clandestine war in Libya is significantly different from the Afghan campaign to drive the Taliban from power in 2001.
In Afghanistan, CIA and US Special Forces worked alongside Afghan militias, arming them paving the way for rebel advance on important cities like Kabul and Kandahar.
Along with having eyes on the ground, US officials said America had also deployed U-2 spy planes and Global Hawk high altitude drones to keep track on movement of large body of troops.
A former key US General said that Libya`s flat desert terrain and clear weather had allowed warplanes with advance sensors to track and hunt Gaddafi`s armoured columns.