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Wednesday, August 17, 2011     INTELLIGENCE BRIEFING

Scud dud: First missile attack on Libyan rebels 'did not hit any target'

WASHINGTON — Col. Moammar Gadhafi ordered the firing of the first Scud ballistic missile in the civil war in Libya.


The U.S. intelligence community has determined that Gadhafi's military fired a Scud B missile toward a rebel stronghold on Aug. 14. Officials said the military fired the missile from a launch pad about 80 kilometers east of Sirte toward the rebel-held city of Brega, deemed a major oil center in Libya.

"The missile did not hit any target and there were no injuries," an official said.

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This marked the first time that Gadhafi ordered the firing of a Scud-class ballistic missile — with a range of up to 300 kilometers — since the eruption of the civil war in February. Gadhafi was said to have stored fewer than 100 Scud Bs despite an agreement with Britain and the United States to eliminate Tripoli's ballistic missile arsenal.

"I think the sense is that Gadhafi's days are numbered," U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said.

The Gadhafi regime, said to have lost its interior minister to defection, did not report the Scud launch, Middle East Newsline reported. The missile firing came amid a rebel drive that approached Tripoli and captured the nearby town of Garyan.

"There are still armed gangs inside the city," Libyan government spokesman Mussa Ibrahim said. "We are able to drive them out."

Officials said Gadhafi could be expected to order additional ballistic missile attacks against the rebels. They said the missiles marked the last stand-off platform available to the Tripoli regime in wake of the NATO destruction of the Libyan Air Force.

"We know that Gadhafi still has some ballistic and perhaps even non-conventional capability left," the official said. "But it is not clear whether he is in a position to use them."

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