Who’s in charge? NATO members squabble over who leads Libyan bombings…and they can’t even agree whether to assassinate Gaddafi

A war of words has erupted between the U.S. and Britain after the U.K. government claimed Muammar Gaddafi is a legitimate target for assassination.

U.K. government officials said killing the Libyan leader would be legal if it prevented civilian deaths as laid out in a U.N. resolution.

But U.S. defence secretary Robert Gates hit back at the suggestion, saying it would be ‘unwise’ to target the Libyan leader and that the bombing campaign should stick to the ‘U.N. mandate’.

The infighting comes as a heated meeting of NATO ambassadors yesterday failed to resolve whether the 28-nation alliance should run the operation to enforce a U.N.-mandated no-fly zone, diplomats said.

President Barack Obama, seeking to avoid getting bogged down in a war in another Muslim country, said on Monday Washington would cede control of operations against Muammar Gaddafi’s forces within days, handing the reins over to NATO.

But Germany and European allies remain unwilling to have NATO take on a military operation that theoretically has nothing to do with the defence of Europe.

France, which launched the initial air strikes on Libya on Saturday, has argued against giving the U.S.-led NATO political control over an operation in an Arab country, while Turkey has called for limits to any alliance involvement.

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