April 22, 2011 / 8:57 AM / 7 years ago

Libyan ground forces degraded by up to 40 percent: U.S.

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Coalition air strikes have degraded Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi’s main ground forces by 30 to 40 percent, but the battle appears to be heading to a stalemate, the top U.S. military officer said on Friday.

“It’s certainly moving toward a stalemate,” said Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the U.S. military’s joint chiefs of staff, addressing U.S. troops during a visit to Baghdad.

“At the same time we’ve attrited somewhere between 30 and 40 percent of his main ground forces, his ground force capabilities. Those will continue to go away over time.”

Mullen said there was no sign of al Qaeda representation in Libya’s opposition, playing down concerns about any militant groups edging their way into the Libyan conflict.

“We’re watchful of it, mindful of it and I just haven’t seen much of it at all. In fact, I’ve seen no al Qaeda representation there at all,” he said.

Mullen arrived in Baghdad on Thursday. The United States is planning to withdraw its remaining troops from Iraq by the end of December, more than eight years after the U.S.-led invasion.

Reporting by Phil Stewart; Editing by Serena Chaudhry and Elizabeth Fullerton

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