Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi sought to gain the high moral ground on Wednesday, appealing directly to U.S. President Barack Obama to stop the NATO-led airstrikes targeted at Gadhafi's military forces and installations, even as NATO was having to change its targeting patterns to avoid firing on unarmed civilians. The latter came about because Libyan government forces had moved into heavily populated areas, effectively using the civilian population as human shields.
Gadhafi's letter, a long rambling missive written in stilted English, was sent to the State Department and then delivered to the White House. Gadhafi claimed that he and his forces were the victims of "an unjust war" but that he had no personal animosity toward Obama, even wishing him well in his re-election campaign. The White House had no immediate comment, other than to say that the letter had been received.
Airstrikes against government forces began after a United Nations Security Council resolution authorized a no-fly zone over Libya and, further, authorized other nations to use "any necessary means" to stop Libyan forces firing on unarmed civilians. The Libyan government has alleged that al-Qaeda terrorists are behind the insurgency.
Rebels fighting against Gadhafi complained of a drop in airstrikes, which NATO officials said was warranted after Gadhafi's forces had taken up residence inside cities, in an effort to make themselves unappealing targets. Rebels were particularly nervous around Misrata, a city in the country's west that has been the target of a fierce siege by government forces, and bear Brega, which has changed hands a few times in recent weeks. In both places, the superiority of Gadhafi's forces' firepower on the ground was evident.