British Prime Minister David Cameron ruled out committing ground troops in Libya, saying it was important to adhere to a UN mandate and not to take action that could alienate the Arab world.
“What we’ve said is there is no question of invasion or an occupation — this is not about Britain putting boots on the ground. That is not what we’re about here,” he told Sky News in an interview when asked about military help being stepped up.
Speaking from Oxfordshire in southern England, he said the Western alliance’s mission was clear: to enforce a no-fly zone and to press on with sorties to destroy Muammar Gaddafi’s tanks and artillery that are being used to kill civilians, Reuters reports.
“We are very clear we must stick to the terms of the UN Security Council resolution. We must keep the support of the Arab world and I think that is very important to make sure this is done the right way,” he said.
Resolution 1973, which established the no-fly zone, authorises forces to take “all necessary measures” to protect civilians, while excluding “a foreign occupation force of any form on any part of Libyan territory”.
Cameron said that short of committing ground troops, the alliance would help in every other way to stop Gaddafi “unleashing this hell on people in Misrata” and other towns up and down the Libyan coast.
Reiterating comments he made in a joint newspaper article on Friday with U.S. President Barack Obama and French President Nicolas Sarkozy, Cameron said Gaddafi had to go.
“There is no doubt in my mind that Colonel Gaddafi is still intent on murdering people in Misrata and taking control of that large city and also pushing towards Benghazi where I’m sure if he ever got there, there would be a bloodbath,” Cameron said.