Libya: RAF Tornados destroy Libyan missile launchers

media captionMoD footage of the RAF's missiles destroying missile launchers and transporters

The RAF has destroyed rocket launchers and Scud-missile containers in Libya, the Ministry of Defence has said.

Two Tornado fighters targeted a FROG-7 weapons system - which can fire rockets more than 40 miles (64km) - near the city of Sirte on Friday.

The planes also destroyed at least 30 containers used for transporting long-range Scud missiles.

Meanwhile, Defence Secretary Liam Fox has denied the mission in Libya is taking too long.

The mission comes as Libya faces claims of scattering landmines in the besieged rebel-held port city of Misrata.

The use of Chinese anti-vehicle mines, as claimed by rebel groups and video footage, was verified by Human Rights Watch.

They were dropped by mini-parachutes from rockets that open during flight, according to the New York Times.

The Libyan government has consistently denied reports it is using cluster munitions.

According to a report in the New York Times, more than 20 of the Chinese Type 84 Model A mines were dropped by mini-parachutes in Misrata from rockets late on Thursday night, the report said.

Shortly afterwards, a port supervisor said one of them had exploded under a patrolling truck, wounding two men inside.

Rebels said forces loyal to Libyan leader Colonel Muammar Gaddafi had also bombed fuel tanks in Misrata, setting them on fire.

'Hugely successful' operation

Misrata is Libya's third-largest city and a key port. It is largely controlled by rebels fighting to topple Col Gaddafi, but has been under siege for weeks.

Defence Secretary Liam Fox said Friday's RAF operation was "hugely successful".

It was also an example of how strikes on Gaddafi's forces were being stepped up, he added.

"I have no doubt that this stockpile of weapons could have been used to threaten and kill innocent Libyans.

"We continue to degrade and destroy a range of military assets including tanks, armoured personnel carriers and rocket launchers that threaten the civilian population.

"The international coalition is resolute in its UN-mandated task of protecting the civilian population," he said.

The targets were identified during previous reconnaissance flights.

'Threat removed'

Scuds have a range of around 200 miles (320km) and can carry a one-tonne warhead.

Speaking on Sky News's Murnaghan programme, the defence secretary also rejected suggestions that the mission in Libya was taking too long.

"It was never going to be quick...when you are using air power to gradually degrade the regime's capabilities without damaging civilian infrastructure, with minimal risk to civilians and therefore fewer casualties.

"If you look at where we were a few weeks ago, with the threat of Benghazi falling and with the potential humanitarian calamity for almost one million people, we have seen that threat removed."

Under the terms of United Nations Security Council resolution 1973, Nato-led forces are enforcing a no-fly zone over the country, as well as carrying out missions aimed at preventing Col Gaddafi's forces from attacking civilians.

Nato aircraft have flown more that 5,300 sorties since the no-fly zone was put in place in March.

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