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The commander of NATO operations in Libya said Tuesday that alliance bombers attacked a large government compound in Tripoli on Monday to destroy command and control nodes, and not to assassinate Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi.

The assertion, by Lt. Gen. Charles Bouchard, the Canadian national who commands NATO’s Operation Unified Protector, was designed to refute accusations by Libyan officials that the aim of a strike early Monday was to assassinate Gaddafi in violation of international law.

“This is about command and control nodes and not about individuals,” Bouchard said in a briefing Tuesday streamed over the Internet in which he summed up the allied air campaign that began March 19.

The compound, part of which was destroyed, includes buildings where Gaddafi has been known to work and receive visitors, including a recent mediation mission from the African Union. Government spokesmen in Tripoli cited the predawn attack as proof the NATO campaign has turned its fury on civilian targets and was trying to strangle Tripoli’s population with an economic embargo preventing the import of basic supplies, including food and gasoline.

Read more about the NATO airstrikes from The Washington Post.

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