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Image: Seven-month-old girl at a hospital in Tripoli
Ahmed Jadallah  /  Reuters
A member of staff at a hospital in Tripoli passed a note to a foreign journalist saying that this seven-month-old girl had been injured in a "road traffic accident." Government media handlers had alleged the girl had been wounded victim by a NATO airstrike.
msnbc.com news services
updated 6/6/2011 5:52:27 AM ET 2011-06-06T09:52:27

Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi's aides brought foreign media to a hospital on Sunday to see a baby they described as a wounded victim of a NATO airstrike.

However, a hospital staff member told a journalist the infant was in fact injured in a car crash.

Government media handlers brought reporters first to a farm on the outskirts of the city, where a man said his dog and several chickens had been killed by a missile strike on Sunday.

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The man said no people were injured, although other people in the area later told some journalists they had heard children were hurt.

The journalists were then brought to a hospital in the center of the capital and taken to the bed of an unconscious infant girl hooked up to medical equipment.

'This is the truth'
A man appeared at the bedside and said he was the girl's uncle, and she had been injured in Sunday's missile strike.

However, a member of the hospital's staff passed one of the foreign journalists a handwritten note on hospital stationery, which said in English: "This is a case of road traffic accident. This is the truth."

No uniformed member of the hospital staff spoke to the journalists.

Video: Engel: Gadhafi losing loyalty among Libyans (on this page)

At the hospital, a man in civilian clothes — presented to cameras as a neighbor of the injured girl — leaned over her, shouted "God, Moammar, Libya and that's all!," a common pro-Gadhafi slogan, and denounced NATO.

The same man was present later that night at a separate media event, where he acknowledged to Reuters that he was employed by the Gadhafi government's media operations team.

Gadhafi's government says more than 700 civilians have been killed and more than 4,000 wounded by NATO airstrikes. However, the media team has not shown foreign reporters based in Tripoli any evidence of large numbers of civilian casualties.

Libyan officials were not available to comment on the hospital staff member's note, or their representation of a member of their media staff as a neighbor of the injured girl. Spokesman Moussa Ibrahim's telephone was not answered.

NATO leaders say they are bombing only military targets in Libya to protect civilians, and will not stop until Gadhafi steps down. Gadhafi's government says the airstrikes are colonial aggression aimed at controlling Libya's oil reserves.

Barracks targeted
Meanwhile, British jets hit a military barracks in the Libyan capital Sunday, intensifying NATO pressure on Gadhafi.

The airstrikes on the barracks — repeated targets of NATO strikes — followed the Western alliance's first use of attack helicopters Saturday.

Video: NATO now using attack helicopters in Libya (on this page)

By intensifying attacks from the air and using helicopters to target government forces who melt into the civilian population for cover, NATO is providing a major boost to Libyan rebel forces who have seized much of the country's east and toeholds in the west.

Emboldened rebels in recent days have forced government troops from three western towns and broke the siege of a fourth.

Gadhafi has been seen in public rarely and heard even less frequently since a NATO airstrike on his compound killed one of his sons on April 30. That has led to speculation about the physical and mental condition of the 69-year-old dictator, who has ruled Libya since 1969.

The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.

Photos: Conflict in Libya, Week 15

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  1. Rebel fighters inspect a burning house in Yafran, about 60 miles southwest of the Libyan capital, on June 6. The rebels drove out Gadhafi forces there earlier in the day. (Youssef Boudlal / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  2. A rebel fighter removes a Libyan flag from a house previously held by government forces in Yafran on June 6. (Youssef Boudlal / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  3. In this photo taken on a government organized tour, a Libyan official points at a girl identified by officials as "Haneen" while he speaks to the media in a hospital in Tripoli, Libya, on June 5. Libyan officials claimed on Sunday that the girl was injured during a NATO airstrike; however, a small note later passed by a medic to a foreign reporter claimed the child was actually injured in a road traffic accident. (Ivan Sekretarev / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  4. A volunteer applies cement on the graves of soldiers loyal to Moammar Gadhafi, who have been buried at a cemetery in the west Libyan city of Misrata on June 5. Some 545 soldiers loyal to Gadhafi, who were killed in battles with rebel fighters, have been buried in Misrata according to Muslim rites since the start of the conflict. (Zohra Bensemra / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  5. Volunteer Mohammed Ali, right, shows aspiring camerawoman Fatima Khaled, 22, how to operate the camera at the office of Libya Al-Hurra (Free Libya), a rebel television studio, in Misrata, on June 5. The television studio is made of up of volunteers. (Zohra Bensemra / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
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    This image contains graphic content that some viewers may find disturbing.

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    The body of a drowned refugee floats near a capsized ship that originated from Libya and which, according to the United Nations refugee agency, was transporting an estimated 850 refugees, approximately 22 miles north of the Tunisian islands of Kerkennah on Friday, June 4. The Geneva-based agency said Friday that at least 578 of the estimated 850 people on board, mostly from West Africa, Pakistan and Bangladesh, survived the Wednesday sinking, making it one of the worst and deadliest incidents in the Mediterranean so far this year. (Lindsay Mackenzie / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  7. An ophthalmologist examines the eyes of a Libyan refugee in a makeshift hospital tent at a refugee camp in Tataouine on June 3. (Anis Mili / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  8. Smoke billows from Tajura, a suburb of the Libyan capital Tripoli, after NATO warplanes launched intensive air raids on Tripoli and its eastern suburbs on June 4. (Mahmud Turkia / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  9. A Libyan rebel fighter prepares anti-aircraft ammunition as he wears the cap of a pro-Moammar Gadhafi officer at Misrata's western front line, some 16 miles from the city center, on June 4. (Zohra Bensemra / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  10. Malak Al Shami, 6, who had a leg amputated after her house was hit by a rocket, jokes with nurses at a hospital in Misrata on June 3. Malak's house was hit by a rocket belonging to forces loyal to Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi on May 13. She lost her sister Rodaina, 1, and her brother Mohamed, 3, on the same day of the incident. (Zohra Bensemra / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  11. A boy scout wears a traffic police uniform, as he directs traffic on a street in Benghazi on June 2. Boy scouts are volunteering for the job, as there has been a lack of traffic police officers since the political conflict in the country began. (Mohammed Salem / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  12. Libyans inspect the site of a blast in the parking lot of the Tibesti hotel, used by rebel leaders, diplomats and journalists, in the eastern rebel stronghold of Benghazi on June 1. (Gianluigi Guercia / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  13. A rebel army officer teaches Libyan women the use of weapons in Benghazi on June 1. (Mohammed Salem / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  14. A rebel fighter prepares tea on Misrata's western front line, some 16 miles from the city center on June 1. (Zohra Bensemra / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  15. Mourners pray at the funeral of Libyan rebel fighter Osama Fathy Ashour, 29, who was killed during battles with forces loyal to Moammar Gadhafi, in Misrata, on May 31. (Wissam Saleh / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  16. Medics carry an injured rebel fighter at a field hospital near Misrata's western front line, on May 31. (Zohra Bensemra / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  17. Women mourn for their relative, a rebel fighter killed during a battle with forces loyal to Moammar Gadhafi, during his funeral at Misrata's western front line on May 31. (Zohra Bensemra / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  18. Libyan rebel fighters bathe in an outdoor spring in Misrata, Libya, on May 31. (Wissam Saleh / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  1. Editor's note:
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  2. Editor's note:
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  3. Editor's note:
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Video: NATO now using attack helicopters in Libya

  1. Closed captioning of: NATO now using attack helicopters in Libya

    >>> we turn now to libya where nato forces are using attack helicopters for the first time today in the fight to remove libyan leader moammar gadhafi from party. the choppers have already attacked and destroyed targets gooding a radar installation and military checkpoint . all this part of an effort to tighten the clamps around the gadhafi regime. i'm joined by msnbc military analyst and recipient of the congressional medal of honor , colonel jack jacobs . good morning to you.

    >> good morning.

    >> can helicopters? what kind of tactical advantage do they provide that nato forces didn't already have?

    >> you can operate -- with helicopters, only in circumstances in which well is no ant -- in which there is no anti-aircraft fire. they're vulnerable to ground-based anti-aircraft fire. most of that has been eliminated. and so you can perceive that we're using them because there's nobody on the ground who's threatening our air. it also means that there are targets out in the open. radar site, troops in the open, tanks. troops in assembly areas, which means that gadhafi 's forces when they present themselves out in the open make easy targets, and that's why we're using helicopters.

    >> okay. could this also mean that gadhafi 's forces are running scared? could the chopper deal a finishing low of sorts that nato forces have been waiting for?

    >> . this has been an ebb and flow since the beginning. we talked about this several months ago when this got started, that in fact the united states and i don't think nato either wants to commit to libya to the extent of putting people on the ground. no, we're going to probably just shoot from the air. targets of opportunity which means this -- every time gadhafi 's forces expose themselves, they get shot at by nato forces including our helicopters. and every time that the rebels try to attack gadhafi 's forces, they put themselves in peril and get repulsed by gadhafi 's forces. what you have in effect is a stalemate, and i think that's exactly what's developing.

    >> if these choppers are not the answer, what else is needed to get it done and knock gadhafi out of power for good?

    >> reporter: i don't think it's going to get done. not without some --

    >> really?

    >> no, it's going to be extremely difficult for outside forces to affect what's happening. the rebel forces are scrambling for money because they -- they can't pay their bills. gadhafi 's forces can't deal a -- blow to the rebels because nato forces are in the air to take them out. no, i think it's going to be extremely difficult to get rid of gadhafi unless we squeeze him completely and totally out of money and he bails out of the country. or if the military establishment perceives that gadhafi 's not going to last for some reason and they will get off his side. i think it's extremely difficult to deal a military blow to gadhafi to knock him out of the game.

    >> okay. colonel jack jakeons, we'll see you again. thank you.

    >> see you later .

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