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>Barack Obama sends drones to Libya

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 PRESIDENT Barack Obama has approved the use of armed Predator drone aircraft to launch airstrikes against ground targets in Libya, the latest sign of mounting concern in Washington that the NATO-led air campaign has failed to stop Muammar Gaddafi’s forces from shelling the besieged city of Misratah and other populated areas. 
 
Defence Secretary Robert Gates, who announced the decision yesterday, said Predators armed with Hellfire missiles would be used to augment airstrikes by warplanes from NATO nations against the intensifying attacks by forces loyal to Gaddafi.
The decision marks a resumption of a direct combat role for US aircraft in Libya and marks a shift for the White House.
It follows decisions by France, Italy and Britain earlier this week to send military advisers to assist the poorly armed, inexperienced and disorganised rebel force based in eastern Libya.
The first Predator mission was launched on Thursday, but the pilotless plane was forced to turn back because of poor weather conditions, said General James Cartwright, vice-chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
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