British soldiers in Libya operation going home

Smoke billows from a suburb of Tripoli on June 4, after NATO warplanes launched intensive air raids the capital.

Story highlights

  • At the peak of the mission, Britain had 2,300 personnel in the mission
  • The seven-month campaign helped bring an end to Moammar Gadhafi
  • Gadhafi's family says it will file a complaint against NATO
British soldiers involved in the NATO operation in Libya are headed home, the U.K. defence ministry said, following a decision to end the mission next week.
After seven months of an aerial bombing campaign that helped depose longtime ruler Moammar Gadhafi, NATO said Friday it is ending its mission in Libya on Monday.
"Our armed forces can be immensely proud that their hard work has assured the liberty of the Libyan people. This is a job well done and we will be sending our crews home from tonight," U.K. Defence Secretary Philip Hammond said Friday. "I have given my personal thanks today to some of the aircrew and support personnel at Gioia del Colle."
Most British military assets have been based at the Gioia del Colle airfield in Italy during the campaign.
British air assets, including tankers and surveillance aircraft, will return home in the coming days, he said in a statement.
At the peak of the mission, Britain had 2,300 personnel, 32 aircraft and four ships, the defence ministry said.
Some operations will continue until Monday, but on a smaller basis that will require less aircraft.
NATO's announcement comes after the United Nations Security Council rescinded its March mandate for military intervention to protect civilians targeted during anti-regime protests.
Meanwhile, Gadhafi's relatives said NATO's actions led to the strongman's death, and plan to file a war crimes complaint with the International Criminal Court, a lawyer representing the family said.
"All of the events that have taken place since February 2011 and the murder of Gadhafi, all of this means we are totally in our right to call upon the International Criminal Court," said Marcel Ceccaldi, the lawyer.
Questions have been raised about how Gadhafi was killed.
Amateur videos showed him alive when captured by the opposition. He died from a shot in the head, officials said, but the circumstances surrounding the shot remain unclear.