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Libya Conflict Timeline

APPENDIX A from Witness to War Crimes: Evidence from Misrata, Libya

  • 15 February 2011: Libyan families of prisoners killed in 1996 hold protest in Benghazi over incarceration of Fethi Tarbel, a lawyer representing them. [1]
  • 17 February 2011: Protestors, organized by social media, hold “day of rage” featuring demonstrations commemorating 2006 usage of lethal force against protestors assaulting the Italian embassy. [2]
  • 23 February 2011: Muammar Qaddafi vows to crush all protests, claiming that demonstrators are led by Islamists and other extreme factions.
  • 1 March 2011: United Nations General Assembly unanimously suspends Libya from Human Rights Council after an estimated 1,000 protestors had been killed by Qaddafi. [3]
  • 6 March 2011: Qaddafi forces attack Misrata for the first time in a series of quick attacks lasting half of the day. [4]
  • 17 March 2011: After requests by the Arab League and Libyan rebels, the United Nations Security Council (Resolution 1973) authorizes a no-fly zone over Libya, specifically Benghazi, in order to prevent further casualties (United States operation called “Odyssey Dawn”). Luis Moreno-Ocampo opens ICC investigation on Qaddafi and his entourage. [5]
  • 24 March 2011: The United States hands over control of the Libyan no-fly zone to NATO (“Operation Unified Protector”).
  • 7 April 2011: NATO airstrikes accidently kill 13 rebels in Ajdabiya. This adds to the friendly fire total where the in previous week, 13 rebels including 3 medical students were killed by coalition forces. [6]
  • 12 April 2011: Due to reports of stranded migrants in Misrata, the International Organization of Migration begins evacuations by sea. [7]
  • 15 April 2011: Presidents Barack Obama and Nicholas Sarkozy, as well as Prime Minister David Cameron call for an increased presence in Libya, with more airstrikes and a goal of ultimately removing Qaddafi from power. [8] Human Rights Watch announces that Qaddafi forces have been using cluster munitions in Misrata. [9]
  • 23 April 2011: Save the Children reports that children are being subjected to sexual assault by Qaddafi forces in Libya. The agency, along with other human rights groups, conducts a 13 day investigation into the accusations. [10]
  • 30 April 2011: NATO airstrikes kill Qaddafi’s youngest son and three grandchildren. The attack prompts assaults by angry Qaddafi Libyans on Western embassies including the burning of the British consulate in Tripoli. [11]
  • 2 May 2011: Qaddafi forces bomb the city of Misrata, preventing ships carrying humanitarian aid into the city.
  • 6 May 2011: Amnesty International claims that Qaddafi forces committed war crimes in the city of Misrata by indiscriminately using cluster bombs, snipers and artillery in heavily populated civilian areas.
  • 16 May 2011: International Criminal Court Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo calls for the arrest of Muammar Qaddafi, his son Saif al-Islam and intelligence agency head Abdullah al-Sanussi for crimes against humanity. Moreno-Ocampo claims that Qaddafi had ordered the shooting of unarmed protestors.
  • 17 May 2011: Qaddafi forces fire rockets at rebels near Tunisian border which prompts Tunisia to report the action to the United Nations. [12]
  • 23 May 2011: Psychologist Siham Sergewa claims that Qaddafi forces used rape as a weapon of war. Siham based her conclusion on a visit to refugee camps on the Libyan-Tunisian border where she collected evidence of rape which she shared with the International Criminal Court. [13] Andrew Harding of the BBC interviewed Qaddafi soldiers who claimed they had been forced to rape women in Misrata and that it had been a policy of the army. [14]
  • 29 May 2011: A survey by Sergew indicates that thousands of Libyans are suffering from PTSD. The ICC corroborates her testimony that rape was used as a weapon of war.
  • 1 June 2011: NATO decides to extend airstrikes for an additional 90 days. [15] UN human rights investigators release a report which alleges that both the Qaddafi regime and rebel forces are guilty of war crimes. [16]
  • 7 June 2011: Qaddafi government claims that 31 civilians are killed by NATO airstrikes. [17]
  • 8 June 2011: Qaddafi forces shell Misrata, killing ten rebels. [18]
  • 9 June 2011: ICC investigator Luis Moreno-Ocampo reports that Qaddafi ordered mass rapes and distributed Viagra-like substances to soldiers. [19]
  • 16 June 2011: President Obama sends a report to the United States Congress outlining the legal justification of U.S. involvement in Libya. [20]
  • 17 June 2011: The U.N. Human Rights Council extended the mandate for investigating abuses in Libya until the end of 2011. [21]
  • 18 June 2011: NATO claims that Qaddafi forces are using mosques and other civilian in order hide military targets. [22] Rebels in Misrata claim to possess documents that exhibit war crimes on the part of Qaddafi. [23]
  • 19 June 2011: NATO acknowledges that airstrikes killed a number of civilians in Tripoli. [24] Rebels in Derna unearthed a mass grave which they claim shows atrocities committed by Qaddafi’s government. [25]
  • 23 June 2011: Qaddafi in a speech on state television accused NATO of being murderers for an air strike that killed 19 civilians. [26]
  • 27 June 2011: The International Criminal Court issues an arrest warrant against Qaddafi, his son Saif al-Islam, and his spy chief Abdullah Senussi, on indictments of committing crimes against humanity. [27]
  • 12 July 2011: Human Rights Watch condemns accounts of the rebels’ pillaging and damaging of businesses, civilian homes, and hospitals in mountain towns recently captured by the rebels, including the town of Al-Qawalish. [28]
  • 20 July 2011: Five decapitated or brutally disposed corpses in Gaddafi uniforms are found between Zintan and Al-Qawalish. Rebels claim Qaddafi forces killed the men for being suspected as defectors, but investigations are ongoing. [29]
  • 28 July 2011: Rebel military chief Abdul Fattah Younis, who defected from Qaddafi’s government, is killed en route to Benghazi after allegedly being summoned for questioning. [30] Circumstances of the death remain unclear, as rebel leaders report different details of the assassination. [31]
  • 5 August 2011: Rebels claim Qaddafi’s youngest son Khamis died in a NATO strike on Zlitan, but the Qaddafi regime refutes these allegations by airing recent footage of him on TV. [32]
  • 9 August 2011: Qaddafi’s government reports that a NATO strike over Majer, a small mountain village south of Zlitan, kills 85 civilians, including 33 children. [33] NATO officials deny the claims, stating that the air strikes killed army men, not civilians. [34]
  • 10 August 2011: The International Committee of the Red Cross issues a report condemning medical neutrality violations in armed conflicts, citing Libya as a prominent example of such violations. [35]
  • 21 August 2011: Rebels capture Green Square in Tripoli and surround Qaddafi’s compound. [36]
  • 22 August 2011: Opposition forces control 85% of Tripoli. [37] Some 15,000 detainees in Tripoli are released. [38]

[1] Clashes Erupt as Libya Braces for “Day of Anger”, AFP, 16 Feb. 2011,

[2] Timeline: Libya’s Uprising Against Muammar Gaddafi, Reuters, 21 Mar. 2011,

[3] Bill Varner, UN General Assembly Suspends Libya from Human Rights Panel, Bloomberg, 1 Mar. 2011,

[4]Interview with key informant no. 28 in Kerzaz, Libya (9 Jun. 2011).

[5] Security Council Authorizes “All Necessary Measures’ to Protect Civilians in Libya, U.N. News Centre, 17 Mar. 2011,

[6] Libyan Rebels near Ajdabiya ’Killed in Nato Airstrike’, BBC News, 7 Apr. 2011,

[7] LIBYA: Timeline of Key Events Since 4 April, IRIN, 14 Jun. 2011,

[8] Allegra Stratton, Obama, Cameron & Sarkozy: No Let-up in Libya Until Gaddafi Departs, The Guardian, 15 Apr. 2011,

[9] Libya: Cluster Munitions Strike Misrata, Human Rights Watch, 15 Apr. 2011,

[10] David Batty, Libyan Children Suffering Rape, Aid Agency Reports, The Guardian, 23 Apr. 2011,

[11] NATO Strike Kills Qaddafi Son, Spares Leader, AP, 30 Apr. 2011,

[12] Libyan Forces Target Rebels Near Tunisian Border, VOA News, 14 Jun. 2011,

[13] Sara Sidner & Amir Ahmed, Psychologist: Proof of Hundreds of Rape Cases During Libya’s War, CNN, 23 May 2011,

[14] Andrew Harding, Libya: ‘Forced to Rape in Misrata’, BBC News, 23 May 2011,

[15] NATO Blasts Tripoli with Series of Airstrikes, AP, 2 Jun. 2011,

[16] Libya Conflict: UN Accuses Both Sides of War Crimes, BBC, 1 Jun. 2011,

[17] Libya says NATO attacks on Tripoli kill 31, Reuters, 7 Jun. 2011,

[18] Diaa Hadid & Mike Corder, Gadhafi Strikes Libya Rebels, NATO Pounds Tripoli, AP, 8 Jun. 2011, available at

[19] Ed Pilkington, Xan Rice, Chris Stephen, Richard Norton-Taylor, Gaddafi faces new ICC charges for using rape as weapon in conflict, 9 Jun. 201,1

[20] White House Defends Legality of US Military Action in Libya, Reuters, 16 Jun. 2011,

[21] UN Rights Body Extends Mandate of Libya Panel, AP, 17 Jun. 2011,

[22] Nato Says Libya Uses Mosques as Shields, BBC News, 18 Jun. 2011,

[23] Joshua Norman, Report: Documented Proof of Qaddafi War Crimes, CBS News, 18 Jun. 2011,

[24] NATO Admits Civilian Deaths in Libya Raid, Al Jazeera, 19 Jun. 2011,

[25] Secret Graves Found in Libya, Al Jazeera, 19 Jun. 2011,

[26] Libya’s Gadhafi Slams NATO over Civilian Deaths, AP, 23 Jun. 2011,

[27] Marlise Simons, Charges of War Crimes Brought Against Qaddafi, N.Y. Times, 27 Jun. 2011,

[28] C.J. Chivers, Libyan Rebels Accused of Pillage and Beatings, N.Y. Times, 12 Jul. 2011, 

[29] Ruth Sherlock, The Headless Corpse, the Mass Grave and Worrying Questions about Libya’s Rebel Army, The Telegraph, 20 Jul. 2011,

[30] Rania El Gamal, Libyan rebels say commander killed by allied militia, Reuters, 29 Jul. 2011,

[31] Chris Stephen & Haroon Siddique, Libyan rebels fear rift after death of Abdel Fatah Younis, The Guardian, 29 Jul. 2011,

[32] Khamis Gaddafi ‘shown alive on Libyan television,’ The Telegraph, 10 Aug. 2011,

[33] Herve Bar, US launches anti-Kadhafi offensive in Africa, AFP, 9 Aug. 2011,

[34] Rami Al-Shaheibi, NATO: Libya airstrike killed troops, not civilians, AP, 11 Aug. 2011,

[35] Mark Tran, Red Cross brands assaults on medics in conflict zones a ‘humanitarian tragedy,’ The Guardian, 10 Aug. 2011,

[36] A Final Surge to Tripoli: Taking Control of the City, New York Times, 22 Aug. 2011,

[37] Rebels say they are gaining ground in Libya; government disputes claim, CNN, 13 Aug. 2011,

[38] Libya: timeline of the conflict, The Telegraph, 22 Aug. 2011,