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As Congress debates Libyan pullback, U.S. continues attacks

By Larry Shaughnessy, CNN Pentagon Producer
  • Manned and unmanned warplanes continue attacks, spokesman says
  • A bill in the House would cut off funding for U.S. military activities in Libya
  • Since NATO took over March 31, the United States has flown hundreds of missions

Washington (CNN) -- As the House of Representatives debated about possibly cutting funding for the U.S. military's role in support of the NATO campaign in Libya, American warplanes, manned and unmanned, continue to attack targets inside the north African nation, the Pentagon said Friday.

Just since Monday, the United States has dropped bombs and fired missiles in a dozen missions over Libya, according to the Pentagon. The Defense Department will not give specifics on the attacks or the intended targets, but the United States has been using F-16 and FA/18 manned warplanes and Predator unmanned aerial vehicles to attack Libya since NATO took over the mission there on March 31.

"The secretary has been very clear in his opinion on that, he's said multiple times, that in his experience cutting off funding once troops are engaged is a mistake," Pentagon spokesman, Col. David Lapan said Friday in a meeting with reporters.

One of the bills to be voted on Friday in the House would cut off all funding for U.S. military activities in Libya, with the exception of search and rescue; intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance; aerial refueling; and operational planning.

The would put an end to United States use of electronic warfare activities, like radar jamming, against the Gadhafi regime. It would also end the air attacks by fighter jets and drones.

Since March 31, when NATO took over command of the operations in Libya the United States has flown hundreds of missions, in 80 manned missions, and 39 UAV missions, bombs dropped or missiles were fired again targets in Libya.

There are already limits on some of the U.S. air operations "The fixed-wing manned aircraft were flying suppression of enemy air defense (SEAD) missions," Lapan said.

The Predators "weren't restricted to only that mission. They can conduct strikes against whatever necessary targets there are," Lapan said.

The House bill would also mean an end to the U.S. Navy's role in the sea blockade against Libya, aimed at preventing weapons from being shipped to the Gadhafi regime.