In a move that could possibly take the ongoing civil war to a new turn, NATO used for the first time its attack helicopters pushing Libyan leader Muammar Gadhafi’s forces further to the edge. In a media statement, NATO said it is using the helicopters to better track pro-Gadhafi forces that are said to be targeting civilians in their desperate attempt to avoid NATO strikes.

Brussels has confirmed the use of British Apache helicopters as well as French Tiger helicopters in simultaneous attacks on different targets including radar sites, military installations, and a military checkpoint near Brega, a strategic and highly disputed oil town north of the country. It has also been confirmed that the helicopter strikes led to the successful destruction of these targets and the Apaches and the personnel aboard have returned safely to their base.

It was learned that the decision to deploy the Apache helicopters was given by British Prime Minister David Cameron last week. For the mission, Britain gave a go for their four Apaches, known to perform well in both sea and desert conditions. France also contributed four of their attack helicopters for NATO’s Operation Unified Protector.

These developments couldn’t have come at the worst time for Col. Gadhafi and his subordinates. Reports have circulated that the rebel fighters have recently made a major advance towards Tripoli after defeating Gadhafi forces and taking several western towns in the country that are sympathetic to the embattled Libyan leader.

On Friday, an official of the opposition declared that that rebels have taken control of four towns in the western Nafusa mountain range. At the same time, Misrata – Libya’s third largest city with over 300,00 residents – is now in the hands of the rebel forces.  Just recently, the city was brutally besieged by government forces and some unconfirmed reports show that over 250 people were killed and hundreds more wounded during the attack and they were mostly civilians.

Meanwhile, the rebel faction has already started work on how the new Libyan government should look like after Gadhafi and his sons relinquish power. Mustafa Abdel Jalil, identified as the chairman of the opposition National Transitional Council has held one-on-one talks with China’s ambassador to Qatar Zhang Zhiliang to discuss developments in the country. It was learned that Jalil presented himself as a possible alternative Libya’s highest post. China abstained during the UN Security Council vote that authorized the NATO military campaign in Libya.

Canada’s Lieutenant General Charles Bouchard, who commands Operation Unified Protector said the use of helicopters will continue to be an option and is quoted “will continue to use these means when and where necessary, with the same precision as in all our missions.”  With the backing of many African and Arab nations, the UN Security Council voted on February 26 imposing sanctions against the Col. Ghadafi’s government. According to UN Security Resolution 1973 text, it has authorized NATO to “take all measures to protect areas that were being threatened by the Qadhafi regime.”