Sunday, March 20, 2011

Libya: No-Fly Zone Takes Effect, Gadhafi Opponents Rejoice - ABC News

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http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/libya-us-bombers-pound-libyan-targets-gadhafi-defiant/story?id=13178174
A United Nations-backed no-fly zone took effect over parts of Libya today after a barrage of airstrikes by U.S. and European militaries destroyed Libyan defenses, rocked the capitol of Tripoli and buoyed the spirits of the opposition.
"It's had a pretty significant effect very early on," Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Mike Mullen said today of Operation Odyssey Dawn on ABC News' "This Week."
"The no-fly zone has essentially started to have its effects. We are flying over Benghazi right now. He hasn't had any planes in the air the last two days," Mullen said of Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi.
Vice Admiral William Gortney said today that the coalition forces were "not targeting Gadhafi" and added, echoing other U.S. officials, that the United States will will soon hand over command to a coalition partner. The no-fly zone, which will stretch from Tripoli to Benghazi and the top third of the country, is being enforced by the U.S. British and French aircraft. Spain, Belgium, Denmark, and Qatar have also joined the coalition.



WASHINGTON — The U.S. claimed initial success two days into an assault on Libya that included some of the heaviest firepower in the American arsenal — long-range bombers designed for the Cold War — but American officials on Sunday said it was too early to define the international military campaign's endgame. The top U.S. military officer suggested that Libyan strongman Moammar Gadhafi might stay in power in spite of the military assault aimed at protecting civilians, calling into question the larger objective of an end to Gadhafi's erratic 42-year rule. Other top U.S. officials have suggested that a weakened and isolated Gadhafi could be ripe for a coup. A second wave of attacks, mainly from American fighters and bombers, targeted Libyan ground forces and air defenses, following an opening barrage Saturday of sea-launched Tomahawk cruise missiles. At the Pentagon, Navy Vice Adm. William E. Gortney, staff director for the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told a news conference that the back-to-back assaults Saturday and Sunday had inflicted heavy damage. They largely silenced Gadhafi's air defenses, blunted his army's drive on the rebel stronghold of Benghazi and confused his forces. "We judge these strikes to have been very effective in significantly degrading the regime's air defense capability," Gortney said. "We believe his forces are under significant stress and suffering from both isolation and a good deal of confusion." Gortney's assessment suggested that further strikes on the scale of Saturday's heavy assault with sea-launched Tomahawk cruise missiles may not be needed, although he did not rule out further attacks. Gortney said Gadhafi himself is not a target, but he could not guarantee the strongman's safety. Story: Gadhafi vows 'long war' after US, allies strike.

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