coast on Saturday in an opening attack to degrade
's air defense systems and allow international allies to establish a no-fly zone aimed at protecting civilians.
The U.S. and
launched more than 110 Tomahawk missiles at more than 20 targets. The strikes targeted specifically surface-to-air missile sites and radar detectors that are part of the Libyan military's air defense infrastructure, said Vice Admiral William E. Gortney, commander of U.S. Naval Forces Central Command.
The U.S. had identified sites along the coast of Libya, including around the capital of Tripoli and the city of Misratah, the Pentagon confirmed.
While President Obama has emphasized that American forces would play a subordinate role in enforcing the no-fly zone over Libya, the Pentagon said the U.S. had to lead the operation in its early days because it has the greatest capability to destroy Kadafi's air defenses, a key prerequisite to taking control of Libya's airspace.
Libyan official: Attacks resulted in 'tremendous casualties'
Libyan officials called Saturday's coalition missile strikes "barbaric aggression" that directly contradicted a previously announced cease-fire by the African country's government. NBC's Richard Engel reports. Full story
Official: 'Just first phase of coalition