NATO forces have destroyed a Libyan coast guard ship and several other smaller vessels that were reportedly launching missile attacks on merchant ships in the port of Misrata, NATO officials said on Tuesday. “The purpose of firing onto the vessel was to stop them from firing into the port, harming civilians and damaging other vessels,” says NATO Lt. Nathan Potter. The maritime skirmish is among the most direct confrontations that has occurred between NATO and pro-Gadhafi forces since Operation Odyssey Dawn began on March 19. Meanwhile, Russia, who abstained from voting on UN Security Council Resolution 1973 authorizing coalition operations, has urged NATO not to bomb Libyan ground targets, saying the operation is overstepping its mandate to enforce a no-fly zone over Libya and to protect civilians.
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