Saturday, March 19, 2011

U.S., attack on Libya

U.S., Allies Launch Missile Attack On Libya
by NPR Staff and Wires
var so = new SWFObject("/design/flash_templates/preloaderAS3.swf", "soundslider", "624", "500", "9", "#FFFFFF"); so.addParam("allowScriptAccess", "always");
so.addParam("quality", "high");
so.addParam("wmode", "transparent");
so.addParam("allowFullScreen", "true"); so.addVariable("thexml", ""); so.addVariable("theswf", ""); so.write("slideshow134684195");

text size A A A March 20, 2011
President Obama authorized limited military action against Libya on Saturday, saying Moammar Gadhafi's continued assault on his own people left the U.S. and its international partners with no other choice.
Obama said military action was not his first choice.
"This is not an outcome the U.S. or any of our partners sought," Obama said from Brazil, where he is starting a five-day visit to Latin America. "We cannot stand idly by when a tyrant tells his people there will be no mercy."
Navy Vice Adm. William E. Gortney, director of the Pentagon's Joint Staff, told reporters that U.S. and British ships launched more than 100 missiles on Libyan air defenses in an effort to lay down protection for a no-fly zone. The missiles targeted Libya's defense system, including "surface-to-air missiles sites, early warning sites and key communication nodes."
Gortney said they hit more than 20 sites along the Mediterranean coastline, but the success of the mission, dubbed Odyssey Dawn, was not immediately clear.

Credit: NPR
Obama declared once again that the United States would not send ground forces to Libya, though he said he is "deeply aware" of the risks of taking any military action.
The head of Libya's parliament, Mohammed Abul-Qassim al-Zwai, called the strikes "barbaric" and insisted Libya had kept its promise of a cease-fire.
"This aggression will not weaken us," he said.
Zwai said civilian buildings were hit and that hospitals were filling up, but NPR's David Greene in Tripoli said there was no way to confirm his claims.
Defense Secretary Robert Gates, who was scheduled to fly to Russia on Saturday afternoon to begin a week-long overseas trip, postponed his departure for 24 hours. Pentagon press secretary Geoff Morrell said Gates decided he should remain in Washington to monitor developments in Libya at the outset of U.S. strikes.
Gates had been skeptical of getting involved in Libya's civil war, telling Congress earlier this month that taking out Libya's air defenses was tantamount to war. Others have worried that the mission could put the U.S. on a slippery slope to deeper involvement in yet another Muslim country — on top of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
'A Universal Conscience That Cannot Tolerate Such Crimes'
Top officials from the U.S., Europe and the Arab world were meeting in Paris, where they announced on Saturday immediate military action to protect civilians caught in combat between Gadhafi's forces and rebel fighters.
As the military action was announced, French fighter jets swooped over Benghazi, the opposition stronghold that was stormed by Libyan government forces earlier Saturday, in defiance of a proclaimed cease-fire.
Related NPR Stories

President Obama Pledges Action In Libyan Crisis
U.N. members warned Gadhafi late Friday to stop his advance on Benghazi if he wants to avoid attack.

U.N. Votes To Impose No-Fly Zone Over Libya
The resolution authorizes member states "to take all necessary measures ... to protect civilians."

Libyan Forces Shell Rebels In East, West
Rebels lashed out at the West for failing to come to their aid as Libyan troops pressed forward.

A Guide To Protests In Middle East, North Africa
In the wake of an uprising in Tunisia, a look at the unrest that has spread across the region.
France, Britain and the United States had warned Gadhafi on Friday that they would resort to military means if he ignored the U.N. resolution demanding a cease-fire.
Among the U.S. Navy ships in the Mediterranean were two guided-missile destroyers, the USS Barry and USS Stout, as well as two amphibious warships, the USS Kearsarge and USS Ponce, and a command-and-control ship, the USS Mount Whitney. The submarine USS Providence was also in the Mediterranean.
French President Nicolas Sarkozy said the allied nations would use "all means necessary, particularly military" to enforce the U.N. mandate.
The French leader said the military action was being taken "to protect the civilian population" from the "deadly madness of a regime which, by killing its own people, has lost any legitimacy."
He said that Gadhafi "still could avoid the worst" by complying with the requirements of the international community.
"The door of diplomacy will open when the fighting stops," he said.
"The future of Libya belongs to the Libyans," Sarkozy said, adding that the intervention was taking place because of "a universal conscience that cannot tolerate such crimes."
Canadian, Italian, Danish and Norwegian planes were also participating in the operation, working out of military bases around the Mediterranean region. However, it was still unclear what role Arab nations would play.
U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said in a statement Saturday that given the situation on the ground in Libya, "it is imperative that we continue to act with speed and decision."
Fighting In Benghazi
Earlier Saturday, a plane was shot down over the outskirts of Benghazi, sending up a massive black cloud of smoke.
It was not immediately clear whether the warplane belonged to loyalist or rebel forces.
"If it did indeed belong to the Libyan government ... it would be another sign that [Gadhafi] is in open defiance of the world right now," Greene reported.
But rebels told NPR the plane was theirs and that it had been shot down by loyalist forces as it tried to defend the city. Opposition forces are known to have obtained at least some aircraft from pilots who defected from the Libyan air force in the opening days of the conflict.
The World Weighs Libya's Unrest
var so = new SWFObject("/design/flash_templates/preloaderAS3.swf", "soundslider", "300", "300", "9", "#FFFFFF"); so.addParam("allowScriptAccess", "always");
so.addParam("quality", "high");
so.addParam("wmode", "transparent");
so.addParam("allowFullScreen", "true"); so.addVariable("thexml", ""); so.addVariable("theswf", ""); so.write("slideshow134673033");

Witnesses said Benghazi was hit by artillery and mortar fire and an explosion was reported near the rebel headquarters. The Red Cross and other aid groups said there was a sharp increase in the number of civilians trying to leave the city.
Greene said Libyan officials had confirmed there were pro-Gadhafi militias within Benghazi, who "as they put it, have been ... 'cleansing' terrorist' groups from outside the city."
Rebel leaders fighting to push Gadhafi from power also said cities such as Misrata and Ajdabiya were still being shelled. A Pentagon official told NPR that the U.S. saw surveillance suggesting Libya's military was still active, firing on areas around the eastern city.
Libya Denies Attacks
In an open letter read out hours before the coalition announced immediate military action, Gadhafi had a warning: "You will regret it if you dare to intervene in our country."
Greene reported that hundreds of his supporters had gathered Saturday at his compound in Tripoli, singing, dancing and expressing their support.
"They said they came of their own free will," he said, "but it certainly was quite an orchestrated display for the international media."
Government spokesman Ibrahim Musa denied government forces shelled any Libyan towns on Saturday, saying the rebels were the ones breaking the cease-fire by attacking military forces.
"Our armed forces continue to retreat and hide, but the rebels keep shelling us and provoking us," Musa told The Associated Press.
Musa also said the planned U.N. Security Council embargo of Libya's military airspace was "invalid" because, he said, "the Security Council is not authorized according to the U.N. Charter to intervene in the internal affairs of any country."
"This is injustice, it's a clear aggression and there's an uncalculated risk for its consequences on the Mediterranean and for Europe," Musa said.
A Quick End To Weeks Of Debate
In a joint statement to Gadhafi late Friday, the U.S., Britain and France — backed by unspecified Arab countries — said a cease-fire must begin "immediately" in Libya, the French presidential palace said.
The statement urged Gadhafi to end his troops' advance toward Benghazi and pull them out of the cities of Misrata, Ajdabiya and Zawiya. It also called for the restoration of water, electricity and gas services in all areas, and said Libyans must be able to receive humanitarian aid or the "international community will make him suffer the consequences" with military action.
The statement followed a U.N. Security Council resolution offering protection to Libya's citizens late Thursday with the backing of the United States, France and Britain — hours after Gadhafi vowed to launch a final assault and crush the nearly five-week-old rebellion against him.
Western powers faced pressure to act urgently after weeks spent deliberating over what to do about Gadhafi as his regime gained momentum.
"Things really came together quickly at the end," said NPR's Greene said. "There was a sense for days that this might never happen, the debate might continue.
"All sides said the support from the Arab League and potentially the willingness of Arab countries to take part in this lent that final needed support to push this through," he said.
Rebel Forces Falling Back
The shift toward international action reflected dramatic change on the ground in Libya in the past week. The rebels, once confident, found themselves in danger of being crushed by an overpowering pro-Gadhafi force using rockets, artillery, tanks and warplanes. That force has advanced along the Mediterranean coast aiming to recapture the rebel-held eastern half of Libya.
The rebellion began Feb. 15 in Benghazi and spread east to Tripoli. Like other uprisings in North Africa and the Mideast, Libya's protest started with popular demonstrations against its leader, rejecting Gadhafi's four decades of despotic and often brutal rule. The tone quickly changed after the regime's security in Tripoli forcefully put down the gatherings there.
Opposition forces began arming themselves and quickly seized control of the country's east, basing themselves in Benghazi, which is Libya's second-largest city and has a population of about 700,000. Some Libyan army units joined the rebels, providing them with needed firepower, but much less than Gadhafi's remaining forces and, crucially, no air power.
There are no official death tolls. Rebels say more than 1,000 people have been killed in a month of fighting, while Gadhafi claims the toll is only 150.
With reporting from NPR's Eric Westervelt in Tobruk, David Greene in Tripoli, Eleanor Beardsley in Paris and Phillip Reeve in London and Alan Greenblatt. Material from The Associated Press was used in this story.

No comments:

Post a Comment