Libyan and American experts have neutralized about 5,000 portable surface-to-air missile launchers held by the Libyan army during the regime of Muammar Qaddafi, according to Deputy Secretary of State for Military-Political Affairs Andrew Shapiro of the United States. In Libya for a one-day visit on Sunday, Shapiro said the operation has been going on for a number of months.
About a thousand more were destroyed by North Atlantic Treaty Organization bombing during fighting between forces loyal to Qaddafi and the rebels who eventually defeated them. The launchers are being destroyed in order to remove a threat to civilian aviation. There are concerns that some could end up in the hands of Gaza terrorists for use against Israeli aircraft. Agence France Presse reports that Qaddafi had a stockpile of 20,000 launchers.