Royal Navy continues to support fight against Colonel Gaddafi’s forces

ON DUTY HMS Liverpool
ON DUTY HMS Liverpool

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NAVY warship HMS Liverpool is playing an important role off Tripoli as the battle to remove Colonel Gaddafi intensifies.

The Portsmouth based Type 42 destroyer is currently on patrol off Tripoli and towed a boat full of Maltese refugees which had been shot at, to safety.

Liverpool has been stationed close to the front line since April and came across the small Maltese-registered vessel while conducting surveillance off Tripoli.

The boat filled with refugees had been damaged by hostile fire while leaving Tripoli port and her manoeuvrability was impaired.

Major General Nick Pope, from the Ministry of Defence, said: ‘HMS Liverpool passed a line to the vessel and towed her to open waters where she was able to proceed safely.

‘Liverpool alerted the Maltese authorities to the vessel’s condition, and then was able to return to her duties off the coast.’

The warship has been shot at six times by Gaddafi’s fighters who seized control of much of Tripoli on Sunday evening.

Large crowds have gathered in Green Square – where pro-Gaddafi demonstrations have been held in the past – and tanks came out of Gaddafi’s Bab al-Azizia compound early this morning and started firing.

Rebels claim to have captured Col Gaddafi’s son Saif al-Islam, but the location of the colonel is still unknown.

HMS Ocean, HMS Bangor, the Royal Fleet Auxiliary Fort Rosalie and the Fleet Air Arm Sea King helicopters are also in Libya to assist with the conflict.

Since military operations started on March 19, the Royal Navy, Royal Air Force and Army Air Corps have damaged or destroyed over 890 former regime targets which were thought to pose a threat to the Libyan people, from secret police and intelligence headquarters, to several hundred tanks, artillery pieces and armed vehicles.

Western leaders have welcomed the rebel advance and urged Col Gaddafi to go.

David Cameron is to chair a high-level meeting on Libya this morning.

Ahead of the National Security Council-Libya meeting, a spokesman for Downing Street said: ‘The first and most important thing is to make sure civil order is preserved, that there’s food and power, all the things that people need to make sure their daily lives go on.’