British military chief: It's time to let NATO go on the offensive in Libya

Strict restrictions imposed by Nato member states mean that its forces can only attack targets that are deemed to pose a direct threat to Libyan civilians, such as tanks and artillery.

But in an interview with The Sunday Telegraph, Gen Richards said he wanted the rules of engagement changed so that direct attacks can be launched against the infrastructure propping up Gaddafi’s regime. Otherwise he fears the Libyan dictator will survive in power.

“The vice is closing on Gaddafi, but we need to increase the pressure further through more intense military action,” Gen Richards said.