At the beginning of the Libyan uprising, in February 2011, news reports alleged that the Libyan air force was bombing protestors. This formed the basis of the claim that NATO needed to intervene to protect civilians, specifically by imposing a no-fly zone. However, in a press conference at the Pentagon on 1 March 2011, the US Defense Secretary, Bill Gates, and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Mike Mullen, both said that there was no evidence to support these claims.
Question: Do you see any evidence that he has actually fired on his own people from the air? There were reports of it, but do you have independent confirmation? If so, to what extent?
Secretary Gates: We’ve seen the press reports but we have no confirmation of that.
Admiral Mullen: That’s correct. We’ve seen no confirmation whatsoever.