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Nato agrees to take command from the US in enforcing no-fly zone over Libya

Friday, March 25th 2011 - 09:23 UTC
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Gaddafi ground forces continue to attack rebel cities Gaddafi ground forces continue to attack rebel cities

Nato has agreed to take command of enforcing the no-fly zone over Libya from the US. But Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen made clear that other aspects of the operation would remain in the hands of the current coalition for now.

Nato has been locked in dispute about whether to take charge of the mission to enforce a UN resolution. It is believed there are differences of opinion whether attacks on ground troops should form part of the action.

Coalition raids on Libya are meanwhile continuing for a sixth consecutive night.

Mr Rasmussen has insisted there is no split on the military handover, saying Nato is still considering whether to take on the “broader responsibility”. The handover of the no-fly mission could come as early as this weekend.

Mr Rasmussen said all Nato members had agreed to the move, including Turkey, which had expressed doubts over strikes on a fellow Muslim country.

“The fact is that in Nato we take all decisions by consensus and the decision we are taking today to enforce a no fly zone is also taken by a consensus which means that all 28 allies support that decision” he told the BBC.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton welcomed Nato decision to take command of the no-fly zone operation. The US initially agreed to lead enforcement of the UN resolution, but made clear it wanted only a limited role and would hand over responsibility as soon as possible.

But the handover to Nato became bogged down when Turkey made clear its view that action should focus directly on enforcing the no-fly zone and arms embargo, rather than allowing any continuing strikes against ground forces.

Turkey has committed several surface vessels and a submarine to help impede arms reaching to the Gaddafi regime.

The resolution authorises the international community to use “all necessary means” to protect Libyan civilians, but the phrase has become open to different interpretations.

Earlier, French officials confirmed they had destroyed a Libyan military plane which had flown in breach of the no-fly zone. The G-2/Galeb, a training plane with a single engine, had just landed when it was hit by a missile fired by a Rafale jet, a spokesman said.

It was the first such incident of its kind since the operation began.

In the US, Vice-Admiral Bill Gortney told a Pentagon briefing that a total of 350 aircraft were now involved in the operation in some way, about half of them American. A total of 38 ships were participating in a naval blockade, he said, 12 of them from the US.

He insisted that ground forces would continue to be attacked as long as they posed a threat to Libyan civilians.

“Our message to the regime troops is simple - stop fighting... stop obeying Gaddafi's orders,” he said.

As the bombing raids were resumed on Thursday night, Libyan state television reported that targets in Tripoli and Tajoura had been hit.

Categories: Politics, International.

Top Comments

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  • ed

    when will Nato operate toward Austria ?

    Jamahiriya inventor Teo ( Jew) is dead ?

    Mar 25th, 2011 - 11:15 am 0
  • briton

    So at last the royal navy is sending a carrier,
    HMS Invincible will be towed right past the coast of Libya en route to the scrapyard. What a bitter irony
    still, its the thought that counts ??????

    Mar 25th, 2011 - 02:31 pm 0
  • Zethee

    briton: The RAF Have proven that in this case a carrier is not necessary.

    Even if we had the old ones, the harriers fail in comparison to the Eurofighters.

    The carriers were old, as were the harriers. Giving them up means we'll have a uptodate force in 9 years, it is WELL worth it.

    Mar 25th, 2011 - 03:30 pm 0
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