"We mounted a complex operation with unprecedented speed and conducted it with the greatest of care," Rasmussen said. "I'm very proud of what we have achieved."
NATO also called an end to its air war in Libya. At an understated and sparsely-attended news conference late on Friday (October 21, 2011), NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said the Western alliance had taken a preliminary decision to call a halt to Operation Unified Protector on October 31.
Like other Western officials, Rasmussen expressed no regrets in public about the gruesome death of the deposed Libyan dictator, who was captured alive by the forces of the National Transitional Council but was brought dead to a hospital.
The NATO operation, officially intended to protect civilians, effectively ended on Thursday with French warplanes blasting Gaddafi's convoy as he and others tried to escape a final stand in Sirte.
NTC officials have said Gaddafi later died of wounds in the ambulance, but the ambulance driver, Ali Jaghdoun, told Reuters that Gaddafi was already dead when he picked up the body. "I didn't try to revive him because he was already dead," Jaghdoun said, in testimony that adds greater weight to the widespread assumption that Gaddafi was lynched.
The U.N. human rights arm said an investigation was needed to into whether he was summarily executed. The interim leaders have yet to decide what to do with the corpse.