Military action underway in Libya

West announces start of military campaign against Gaddafi’s forces Saturday afternoon,

Military underway in Libya
West announces start of military campaign against Gaddafi’s forces Saturday afternoon, French airplanes enter Libyan airspace; Canada’s PM: Powers to enforce naval blockade, ‘extensive’ aerial operations would soon start

News agencies

Allied world leaders announced Saturday afternoon the start of military against Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi’s forces.


French President Nicolas Sarkozy said allied air forces had gone into on Saturday over Libya and were preventing Gaddafi’s troops from attacking the rebel city of Benghazi.


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„Our planes are already preventing air attacks on the city,” he said adding that military supported by France, Britain, the United States and Canada and backed by Arab nations could be halted if Gaddafi stopped his attacks.


French officials said some 20 planes were initially operating in the country, and that the first shot fired by a French aircraft targeted a vehicle.


„A first target was engaged and destroyed,” Defense Ministry spokesman Laurent Teisseire told reporters.


French war planes later destroyed four Libyan tanks in air strikes to the southwest of Benghazi, al-Jazeera television reported, quoting unnamed sources. 


Obama: Our resolve is clear

President Barack Obama said a US coalition of other countries are prepared to act with urgency to end violence against civilians in Libya.



„Our consensus was strong, and our resolve is clear. The people of Libya must be protected,” he said.


Canada’s Prime Minister Stephen Harper said naval actions were also taking place in Libya, including a Libya blockade.


„Extensive” aerial operations would soon start in Libya and Canada would be part of that, he said.



„The parameters of our mission are clear. They are wide ranging and they do not include on-the-ground action,” Harper said. „It is our belief that if Mr. Gaddafi loses the capacity to enforce his will through vastly superior armed forces, he simply will not be able to sustain his grip on the country.”


French jet en route to Libya (Photo: AP)


‘Gaddafi lied to world’

Sarkozy added that Gaddafi has scorned the international ultimatum presented to him.


The French leader said it was the allies’ duty to support the people of Libya and stop the „murderous madness” in the country. He added that Gaddafi can have a ceasefire at any time, by stopping the violence.


Gaddafi has broken the ceasefire and will face urgent to prevent more civilian deaths, British Prime Minister David Cameron said on Saturday.


World against Gaddafi – Paris summit (Photo: AP)



„Colonel Gaddafi has made this happen. He has lied to the international community, he has promised a ceasefire, he has broken that ceasefire,” Cameron told British television reporters after a meeting of international leaders in Paris.


„He continues to brutalize his own people and so the time for has come. It needs to be urgent, we have to enforce the will of the United Nations and we cannot allow the slaughter of civilians to continue.”



Military buildup continues

Meanwhile, the military buildup for operations in Libya is mounting at Italian bases. Six Danish F-16 fighter jets landed Saturday at the US air base in Sigonella, Sicily, and a half-dozen US aircraft arrived elsewhere.



Danish air force spokesman Lars Skjoldan said the six F-16s would be ready for operation in Libya by Sunday.

Explosion in Benghazi (Photo: AP)


Italy has offered the use of seven military bases to enforce the UN-authorized no-fly zone over Libya and protect Libyan civilians from Gaddafi’s troops.


Sigonella’s size and close proximity to Libya makes it a key staging point for any possible international strikes, but other bases were being readied as well, including the US air base at Aviano in northern Italy.


Witnesses reported that five new American F-18s, two C-17s and a C-130 cargo plane landed Saturday at the base, which is home to the 31st Fighter Wing.


Norway to send F-16 jets

Italy’s defense minister Ignazio La Russa said Saturday that Italy wasn’t just „renting out” its bases for others to use but was prepared to offer „moderate but determined” military support as well.


„We’re doing it in the right way, not just giving the keys of our house to friends who will use them correctly, but also participating directly in an operation that surely we never would have wanted but which is necessary for the region’s stability and safety of the Libyan people,” he said.


In addition to the aircraft already in Italy, Norway said it was prepared to send six F-16 fighter jets to enforce the no-fly zone, but that they wouldn’t be operational for five to six days.


One of the two British bases in Cyprus, meanwhile, will be supporting AWACS surveillance aircraft assigned to monitor the no-fly zone over Libya, said spokesman Kristian Gray. The aircraft are already at the Royal Air Force’s Akrotiri base on the south coast of the island, he said. Also deployed to the base is a team of British personnel to coordinate movement of British aircraft.


Reuters,BreuerPress, AP and AFP contributed to the story