NATO bombed the way for rebels’ advance into Tripoli


F-16s -- like these landing at Aviano Air Base, Italy, after flying over Libya -- helped the rebels capture most of the country and set up the battle for Tripoli. (Photo by Staff Sgt. Tierney P. Wilson)

So Col. Muammar Gadhafi hasn’t been captured (and it looks like his son, Saif, might not ever have been), but it’s not too early to look at the role NATO jets played in toppling the Libyan government.

On Aug. 20, the day rebels first stormed Tripoli, NATO jets struck 22 targets inside the capital: three military facilities, one military storage facility, seven surface-to-air missile transloaders, one radar, one surface-to-surface missile, two armed vehicles, two armored fighting vehicles, three command-and-control nodes and two multiple rocket launchers.

And that’s just the latest round. Since NATO took over operations on March 31, the alliance flew more than 19,700 sorties — including 7,459 strike sorties.

So what role did the U.S. play? Here are the latest stats from the Pentagon, covering all services (and excluding the Odyssey Dawn portion of operations):

Total sorties: 5,357
Strike sorties: 1,221
Strike sorties that dropped ordnance: 262
Predator strikes: 101


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