BENGHAZI, Libya – NATO and Libyan officials both rebutted damaging claims Wednesday in the 6-month-old civil war, with NATO insisting an airstrike killed soldiers and mercenaries, not 85 civilians, and state-run TV apparently showing Moammar Gadhafi’s youngest son alive to counter rebel claims of his death.

NATO spokesman Col. Roland Lavoie said the Libyan claim of civilian casualties in an airstrike near the western front-line town of Zlitan “was not corroborated by available factual information at the site.”

NATO aircraft hit a staging base and military accommodation 6 miles south of Zlitan, Lavoie said from the operational command in Naples, Italy. Four buildings and nine vehicles within the compound were struck with precision-guided munitions, he said.

“With our surveillance capabilities, we monitored this military compound very carefully before striking it,” Lavoie said. “A number of military or mercenary casualties were expected due to the nature of the activity we monitored.”

“Our assessment, based on the level of destruction of the buildings, confirms the likelihood of military and mercenary casualties,” he said.

Meanwhile, Libyan state TV broadcast images of a man it said was 27-year-old Khamis Gadhafi, who commands one of the best-trained and best-equipped units in the Libyan military.

Rebels had claimed Friday that Khamis Gadhafi was killed in another airstrike in Zlitan. The regime dismissed the allegation and said the rebels were trying to deflect attention from the killing last week of the opposition’s military commander, possibly by other rebels.

The images showed the son at a Tripoli hospital Tuesday, visiting people wounded in a NATO airstrike, state TV said. If genuine, it would be the first time he has been seen in public since the reports of his death.

State TV also showed funerals for dozens of civilians it said were killed in the NATO airstrike near Zlitan.