Kadhafi air force 'wiped out': France

PARIS, May 17, 2011 (AFP) - NATO-led bombardments have "wiped out"
Libyan strongman Moamer Kadhafi's war planes and heavily depleted his
army, France's defence minister said in comments made public on

"The air force seems to have been wiped out with 80 percent of its
aircraft out of action and only helicopters left," minister Gerard
Longuet said last week, according to a transcript of a Senate defence
commission hearing.

"The army has suffered heavy losses with a third of its heavy
equipment destroyed and about half of its munitions stocks," he added,
in a summary of the strikes against Kadhafi's military sites since
March 19.

"Only the navy has been spared, but that presents no great danger and
its ships have stayed in port where they pose no threat. The anti-air
defences have also been seriously hit."

NATO took over the command of the operations started by British,
French and US forces aimed at curbing Kadhafi's assault in order to
protect civilians in his battle with Western-backed rebels seeking to
oust him.

Pressure piled on Kadhafi on Tuesday as his oil minister Shukri Ghanem
appeared to have defected, Moscow issued a rebuke, NATO jets pounded
Tripoli and a leading prosecutor sought his arrest for crimes against