Sunday, 20 March 2011

Military strikes against Libya: 20 targets, kill 64,Gaddafi's 'command and control capability' destroyed says official !



Update March 21, 2011

Gaddafi's 'command and control capability' destroyed says official 

An air strike against an administrative building in a compound including Muammar Gaddafi's residence in Tripoli has destroyed the Libyan leader's "command and control capability", a coalition official says.

"The coalition is actively enforcing UNSCR [UN Security Council Resolution] 1973, and that in keeping with that mission, we continue to strike those targets which pose a direct threat to the Libyan people and to our ability to implement the no-fly zone," the official added.
Seen through night-vision lenses, guided missile destroyer USS Barry fires Tomahawk cruise missiles in the Mediterranean Sea.
Seen through night-vision lenses, guided missile destroyer USS Barry fires Tomahawk cruise missiles in the Mediterranean Sea. Photo: US Navy

The building, which was about 50 metres from the tent where Colonel Gaddafi generally meets guests, was flattened.

An AFP journalist on Sunday saw smoke billowing from the residence and barracks at Bab el-Aziziya in the south of the Libyan capital as anti-aircraft guns fired shots.
But the US denied targeting the residence or Gaddafi himself.

I can guarantee he’s not on the targeting list. We’re not targeting his residence,’’ vice admiral Bill Gortney told reporters at a Pentagon press conference. 
Civilian casualities a risk: Rudd

Australian Foreign Affairs Minister Kevin Rudd said people should be very sceptical of Colonel Gaddafi's claims that allied actions had already resulted in civilian casualties.

American, British and French forces would use the "absolute best" targeting strategies to avoid killing civilians, Mr Rudd said.

"I think it's realistic to assume, however, that that ongoing risk exists," Mr Rudd told the Seven Network.
Mr Rudd said it was important to see this week’s initial bombardment as "phase one" in a multi-phase operation.
"This will be a long process," he told ABC television today.

Asked just how long he envisioned the intervention would last, Mr Rudd said: "I’m not prepared to speculate on timelines here. The truth is, these operations are invariably very difficult, very complex, very time-consuming, very resource-intensive.’’

Defence Minister Stephen Smith said reports so far indicated there had been no civilian casualties from the allied air attacks.

"But of course in the fog of war we need to wait a bit of time to satisfy ourselves that that is absolutely the case," he told Sky News.

Prime Minister Julia Gillard said Colonel Gaddafi had been given the opportunity to stop the violence.
"He chose not to do that," she told reporters.

"He chose to continue the violence, to continue the bloodshed."

End Gaddafi's rule?

Ms Gillard dodged a question on whether the intervention should seek to end Colonel Gaddafi's rule.
"The motivator here is our responsibility to protect as human beings the people of Libya," she said.

US Defence Secretary Robert Gates said it would be "unwise" to have coalition forces go after Colonel Gaddafi.

Mr Gates said the intervention was backed by a diverse coalition but expanding its goals would complicate the consensus.

There are indications that the consensus is already on shaky ground.

Arab League Secretary General Amr Mussa has reportedly criticised Western military strikes on Libya even though he pushed for a no-fly zone.

"What has happened in Libya differs from the goal of imposing a no-fly zone, and what we want is the protection of civilians and not bombing other civilians," Mr Mussa has been quoted as saying.

But Mr Rudd said Mr Mussa may have been misquoted or mistranslated. "There is now genuine uncertainty about what he has said," Mr Rudd said.

"Knowing how strongly Amr Moussa felt about this when I've been in contact with him, I'd be surprised if his views have been represented completely accurately."

But strategic specialist Hugh White warned the politics surrounding the intervention were going to get more complicated.

"The Arabs have woken up and discovered they have supported not just something which is meant to stop Gaddafi flying his jets but something which is going to involve air attacks on land targets," Professor White said.

UK fires cruise missile from sub


British forces fired Tomahawk missiles at air defence targets on Sunday night from a Trafalgar-class submarine stationed in the Mediterranean off the Libyan coast, the Ministry of Defence said.

Earlier, French fighters launched a second wave of operations against Libyan targets following Saturday's international operation to enforce a no-fly zone, the BBC reported.

The operation came as a  Libyan military spokesman  announced a new ceasefire in the campaign against a military uprising.

But US President Barack Obama's national security aide Tom Donilon said the ceasefire  "isn't true" or has been "immediately violated".

UK officials said Britain would consider the promise of a ceasefire on "actions not words", as more war planes left for the theatre from eastern England.

Libyan spokesman Milad Fokehi said the ceasefire, effective from 9pm local time on Sunday (0600 AEDT Monday), had been decided following an African Union call for an immediate cessation of hostilities.

"In line with the statement published by the African Union panel at Nouakchott on Saturday and UN resolutions 1970 and 1973, the high command of the armed forces ordered a ceasefire from Sunday at 9pm," he said.

Colonel Gaddafi's regime had declared a ceasefire on Friday after UN Security Council resolution 1973 authorised any necessary measures, including a no-fly zone, to stop his forces harming civilians in the fight against the rebels.

But his troops continued an assault on the rebel stronghold of Benghazi, prompting US, British and French forces to intervene with air strikes in line with the resolution.

Western coalition strikes stem from a "big misunderstanding" about the nature of Libya's rebellion, Colonel Gaddafi's son said, claiming the rebels were "gangsters" and "terrorists".

'Big misunderstanding'

Saif al-Islam, a key figure in the Gaddafi regime who had been tipped as a future Libyan leader, has defiantly denied there's any reason for his father to step aside.

"There is a big misunderstanding," he told ABC's This Week program on Sunday. "The whole country is united against the armed militia and the terrorists.

"Our people went to Benghazi to liberate Benghazi from the gangsters and the armed militia," he said, referring to the rebel bastion in eastern Libya.

"So if you, if the Americans want to help the Libyan people in Benghazi ... go to Benghazi and liberate Benghazi from the militia and the terrorists."

US, British and French forces have launched the West's biggest intervention in the Arab world since the 2003 US-led invasion of Iraq, firing more than 120 Tomahawk Cruise missiles and conducting bombing raids on key Libyan targets.

US military officials say the strikes have stopped Colonel Gaddafi's forces in their tracks.
Asked if the Gaddafi regime would retaliate by launching strikes on Western commercial aircraft, Saif al-Islam responded: "No, this is not our target.

"Our target is how to help our people in Libya, especially in Benghazi. Believe me, they are living a nightmare. A nightmare, really."


Gillard backs Libyan action, as strikes continue

Prime Minister Julia Gillard backs the US, British and French military action in Libya, while Gaddafi tells state television his forces will fight back.
  • Over 110 Tomahawk cruise missiles fired
  • French carry out four air strikes
  • US warships, British submarine involved
  • Claims of 48 dead, 150 injured
  • Gaddafi vows to retaliate in Mediterranean
Update: The US, Britain and France have pounded Libya with Tomahawk missiles and air strikes, sparking fury from Muammar Gaddafi who declared the Mediterranean to be a "battlefield".

In a dramatic show of force, US warships and a British submarine fired at least 110 Tomahawk cruise missiles into Libya on Saturday against Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi's anti-aircraft missiles and radar, the US military said.

Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Barry (DDG 52) launches a Tomahawk missile in support of Operation Odyssey Dawn on Saturday. Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Barry (DDG 52) launches a Tomahawk missile in support of Operation Odyssey Dawn on Saturday. Photo: US Navy Visual News Service/AFP
Admiral William Gortley told reporters at the Pentagon that the cruise missiles "struck more than 20 integrated air defence systems and other air defence facilities ashore".

An AFP correspondent said bombs were dropped early on Sunday near Bab al-Aziziyah, Gaddafi's Tripoli headquarters, prompting barrages of anti-aircraft fire from Libyan forces.

There were earlier reports that hundreds of people had gathered to serve as human shields at Bab al-Aziziyah and at the capital's international airport.
Smoke billows over the outskirts of Benghazi, eastern Libya, after a warplane was shot down Saturday.
Smoke billows over the outskirts of Benghazi, eastern Libya, after a warplane was shot down Saturday. Photo: AP
Libyan state television said 48 people were killed and 150 injured in the assaults, which began with a strike at dawn on Saturday by a French warplane on a vehicle the French military said belonged to pro-Gaddafi forces.

Libyan state media said Western warplanes bombed civilian targets in Tripoli, causing casualties while an army spokesman said strikes also hit fuel tanks feeding the rebel-held city of Misrata, east of Tripoli.

Gaddafi, in a brief audio message broadcast on state television, fiercely denounced the attacks as a "barbaric, unjustified Crusaders' aggression".
A Libyan fighter plane takes a hit and crashes in Benghazi.
A Libyan fighter plane takes a hit and crashes in Benghazi. Photo: AFP; AP
He vowed retaliatory strikes on military and civilian targets in the Mediterranean, which he said had been turned into a "real battlefield".

"Now the arms depots have been opened and all the Libyan people are being armed," to fight against Western forces, the veteran leader warned.

Libya's foreign ministry said that in the wake of the attacks, it regarded as invalid a United Nations resolution ordering a ceasefire by its forces and demanded an urgent meeting of the Security Council.

How Gaddafi's forces stack up How Gaddafi's forces stack up
The attacks on Libya "threatens international peace and security", the foreign ministry said in a statement.

"Libya demands an urgent meeting of the UN Security Council after the French-American-British aggression against Libya, an independent state member of the United Nations," the statement said.

On Thursday, the Security Council passed Resolution 1973, which authorised the use of "all necessary means" to protect civilians and enforce a ceasefire and no-fly zone against Gaddafi's forces.

Thousands of Libyans, including children, formed a human shield against possible air strikes by allied forces at Gaddafi's compound. Click for more photos

Military strikes launched on Libya

Thousands of Libyans, including children, formed a human shield against possible air strikes by allied forces at Gaddafi's compound. Photo: Reuters
Thousands of Libyans, including children, formed a human shield against possible air strikes by allied forces at Gaddafi's compound.
The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Stout launches a Tomahawk missile in support of Operation Odyssey Dawn.
Libyan army soldiers loyal to Libya's leader Muammar Gaddafi shout slogans during a protest in Tripoli.
The guided missile destroyer USS Barry fires Tomahawk cruise missiles in support of Operation Odyssey Dawn from the Mediterranean Sea as seen through night-vision lenses.
An armed man loyal to Libya's leader Muammar Gaddafi stands guard during a protest at Bab Al-Aziziyah in Tripoli
Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Stout launches a Tomahawk missile in support of Operation Odyssey Dawn.
Libyan army soldiers loyal to Libya's leader Muammar Gaddafi guard the protest at Bab Al-Aziziyah in Tripoli.
US Navy file photo of a Tomahawk cruise missile.
Soldiers block a boy during protests in Tripoli.
The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Stout launches a Tomahawk missile in support of Operation Odyssey Dawn.

Anti-war protesters take part in a demonstration in Los Angeles, California.
Supporters of Libya's leader Muammar Gaddafi shout slogans as they stand and sit on a wall in Gaddafi's heavily fortified Tripoli compound.
File photo of the guided-missile submarine USS Florida involved in action against Libya's Muammar Gaddafi.
A female soldier from the Libyan army shouts slogans during a protest in Tripoli.
USS Barry launches a Tomahawk missile on Libya.
The following day, Libya declared a ceasefire in its battle to crush an armed revolt against Gaddafi's regime which began on February 15 and said it had grounded its warplanes.

As a result of the Western attacks, however, "the effect of resolution 1973 imposing a no-fly zone are over", the ministry statement said.

State television, quoting a security official, said Libya had also decided to suspend cooperation with Europe in the fight against illegal immigration due to the attacks.

Boats carrying thousands of undocumented migrants, mainly Tunisians, have landed on the Italian island of Lampedusa in recent weeks putting a heavy strain on Italy's immigration infrastructure.

US President Barack Obama, on a visit to Brazil, said he had given the green light for the operation.

"Today, I authorised the armed forces of the United States to begin a limited military action in Libya," Obama said in Brasilia, but stressed that operation "Odyssey Dawn" would not send US troops to Libya.

The first Tomahawk missile struck on Saturday evening following air strikes carried out earlier by French warplanes, Admiral Gortney, director of the US joint staff, said in Washington.

"It's a first phase of a multi-phase operation" to enforce the UN resolution and prevent the Libyan regime from using force "against its own people", he said.

One British submarine joined with other US ships and submarines in the missile attacks, he said.

The first strikes took place near Libya's coast, notably around Tripoli and Misrata, "because that's where the integrated missile defence systems are".

Russia's foreign ministry expressed regret over the attacks and said Security Council Resolution 1973 was "adopted in haste", while the African Union, which opposed military action, on Sunday called for an "immediate stop" to all attacks.

British Prime Minister David Cameron said he held Gaddafi responsible for the situation in his country.
"Tonight, British forces are in action over Libya. They are part of an international coalition that has come together to enforce the will of the United Nations and to protect the Libyan people," Cameron said in London late on Saturday.

"We have all seen the appalling brutality that Colonel Gaddafi has meted out against his own people and far from introducing the ceasefire he spoke about he has actually stepped up the attacks and the brutality."

In the rebel camp, celebratory gunfire and honking of car horns broke out in Al-Marj, 100 kilometres from Benghazi, to welcome the start of military operations against Gaddafi, correspondents said.

Earlier on Saturday thousands fled Benghazi as Gaddafi loyalists pounded the eastern city, the rebels' stronghold, with shells and tank fire after two early-morning air strikes.
Since Friday, the Libyan government has insisted it was observing a self-declared ceasefire. It said its armed forces had come under attack on Saturday west of Benghazi, including by rebel aircraft, and had responded in self-defence.
But the rebels, who have been trying to overthrow the Libyan leader for more than a month, said government troops had continued to bombard cities, violating the ceasefire continuously.

In another Middle East hotspot, medics in Yemen on Saturday raised to 52 the death toll from a sniper attack on protesters in Sanaa the previous day, as thousands rallied despite a state of emergency.

And security forces in Syria fired tear gas on Saturday at mourners burying two men killed in a protest in the southern city of Daraa the previous day, wounding several, rights activists said.

AFP
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