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NATO operation ‘over’ when NTC declares Libya free; U.S. drone hit same convoy bombed by French jet

NATO’s operations in Libya will be over when the National Transitional Council declares that the country has been fully liberated, French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe said on Thursday.

“From the moment the NTC declares that Libyan territory has been liberated, then obviously the NATO operation is over,” Juppe told France-Info radio during a visit to India.

Juppe had earlier hailed the “end of 42 years of tyranny” in Libya after Muammar Qaddafi’s death and said France was “proud” to have helped bring freedom to the country.

French and British forces spearheaded the air campaign against Qaddafi’s military by the NATO military alliance, which has launched nearly 1,000 strike sorties since March 31.

A U.S. defense official said Thursday a U.S. Predator drone along with a French fighter jet had bombed a convoy of vehicles in Libya that Paris believed was carrying Muammar Qaddafi.

French Defense Minister Gerard Longuet had earlier revealed that a French Mirage-2000 had fired a warning shot to halt a column of several dozen vehicles fleeing Sirte.

The U.S. defense official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the unmanned Predator aircraft had attacked “the same convoy” but could not confirm that Qaddafi was in one of the vehicles.