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(Updates with Rasmussen quotes from third paragraph)
Oct. 28 (Bloomberg) -- The North Atlantic Treaty Organization said its mission in Libya will formally end on Oct. 31 after more than 26,000 air sorties and the death of Muammar Qaddafi.
NATO took control of military operations on March 31 under a United Nations resolution to protect civilians from Qaddafi. The 28-nation military alliance made a preliminary decision to end operations the day after Qaddafi was killed on Oct. 20. NATO jets carried out more than 9,500 strike sorties and its ships enforced an arms embargo on the former Libyan regime.
“We have done this together for the people of Libya so they can take their future firmly and safely into their own hands,” NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said today in a statement posted on the NATO website. “Libyans have now liberated their country and they have transformed the region. This is their victory.”
The people of Libya still have a lot of work to do to build new institutions and develop a government that respects human rights and the rule of law, Rasmussen said.
“NATO stands ready to help, if needed and requested, to help Libyans reform the security and defense institutions that all democracies need to remain free and safe,” he said.
Libya’s interim administration says it will form a new government within two weeks and hold elections within eight months. It faces the tasks of uniting the factions that ended Qaddafi’s 42-year rule, disarming militias and restoring oil output.
--Editors: Andrew Atkinson, Eddie Buckle
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