Libya live blog: U.S., Britain fired 159 Tomahawks since Saturday
A Libyan rebel ducks for cover behind a sand dune during a failed attempt to take the town of Ajdabiya from Gadhafi's forces Monday.
March 21st, 2011
01:00 AM ET

Libya live blog: U.S., Britain fired 159 Tomahawks since Saturday

The latest developments on the situation in Libya, where coalition forces launched a series of coordinated airstrikes on Saturday after they were convinced Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi was not adhering to a cease-fire mandated by the United Nations. Read our complete story and check out our full coverage on unrest in the Arab world. Also, don't miss a gripping, high-resolution gallery of images from Libya.

[11 p.m. Monday ET, 5 a.m. Tuesday in Libya] The United States fired 20 Tomahawk cruise missiles into Libya in the past 12 hours, a military spokeswoman said early Tuesday morning from the Mediterranean Sea. A total of 159 Tomahawks have been fired by the United States and the United Kingdom since an international coalition started Operation Odyssey Dawn on Saturday.

Cmdr. Monica Rousselow, a spokeswoman for the task force, also said one of the three U.S. submarines that participated at the beginning of the operation has since departed the area. She declined to say which submarine.

[8:59 p.m. Monday ET, 2:59 a.m. Tuesday in Libya] In a rare public spat, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev criticized his political mentor, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, for Putin's comments over the use of force against Libya.

Putin on Monday said the U.N. Security Council resolution authorizing a no-fly zone over Libya was "obviously incomplete and flawed." He added that it "resembles a medieval appeal for a crusade in which somebody calls upon somebody to go to a certain place and liberate it."

A few hours later Medvedev weighed in, scolding Putin's comments, without using the prime minister's name. "It is absolutely inexcusable to use expressions that, in effect, lead to a clash of civilizations - such as 'crusades,' and so on. That is unacceptable," Medvedev said.

[8:10 p.m. Monday ET, 2:10 a.m. Tuesday in Libya] CNN correspondent Nic Robertson has rejected a Fox News report that he and other journalists were used as human shields by the Libyan government to prevent a missile attack on Gadhafi's compound.

Libyan government officials brought CNN and other news crews to the compound to view a building that was damaged late Sunday in a coalition air strike. The Fox story, posted on the outlet's website Monday, says the journalists' presence forced a British aircraft to call off firing seven missiles at the area that already had been hit.

Robertson, who was part of the CNN crew cited in the Fox story, called the rival network's report "outrageous and hypocritical." Robertson said a Fox staffer was among the journalists on the trip - which was not mentioned in the Fox report - and that the journalists in the group were hurried through their trip by their minders.

"If they wanted to use us as human shields ... they would have kept us there longer," Robertson said. "That's not what happened."

[7:49 p.m. Monday ET, 1:49 a.m. Tuesday in Libya] More U.S. legislators are expressing concern about the country's involvement in the coalition military operation in Libya. Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton, D-District of Columbia, says the president is "stirring up a lot of controversy."

"We're not coordinating with the rebels. Are we going to leave them surrounded, and with the mercy of Gadhafi? I've never seen anything so confused in my life," Norton told CNN.

On the right, lawmakers are demanding the president better explain the U.S. mission in Libya to Congress and the American people, CNN's Dana Bash reports.

"The president should come home and call the Congress back into session and to make his case. He needs to define what the United States' vital mission is here, what is our vital interest, how does he see the potential cost unfolding here," said Rep. Candice Miller, R-Michigan, in an interview from her home district.

[6:32 p.m. Monday ET, 12:32 a.m. Tuesday in Libya] Frances Fragos Townsend, once President George W. Bush's chief counterterrorism adviser and now a CNN commentator, recalls her 2007 visit to the Gadhafi compound in Tripoli where coalition missiles heavily damaged a building on Sunday.

[5:25 p.m. Monday ET, 11:25 p.m. Monday in Libya] CNN's Ed Henry offers a deeper look at U.S. President Barack Obama's comments in Chile regarding Libya on Monday afternoon: Obama repeated Monday that Moammar Gadhafi "needs to go," but he acknowledged the Libyan dictator may remain in power for some time because the allied military mission in North Africa has a more narrow U.N. mandate of just protecting civilians.

Still, Obama noted: "I also have stated that it is U.S. policy that Gadhafi needs to go." Obama said he's still hopeful that other "tools" the administration has used, such as freezing billions in Libyan assets, will eventually help the Libyan people push Gadhafi out.

[5:10 p.m. Monday ET, 11:10 p.m. Monday in Libya] U.S. Sen. Mark Begich, D-Alaska, has expressed "apprehension" and "concerns" about U.S. involvement in Libya.

"Specifically, Congress needs to understand the risk involved to the lives of our service members, how long the administration anticipates U.S. involvement, the impact of our involvement on our other national security priorities like Afghanistan, and what the ultimate objective is," Begich, a member of the Senate's Armed Services Committee, said in a statement Monday.

[4:52 p.m. Monday ET, 10:52 p.m. Monday in Libya] U.S. Sen. Richard Lugar, who already had expressed concern about U.S. and allied air strikes in Libya, has amped up his criticism of the operation, saying "there are no guidelines for success."

In an interview set to air Monday on CNN's "John King, USA," Lugar, the ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said the operation has not been clearly defined.

"I do not understand the mission because as far as I can tell in the United States there is no mission and there are no guidelines for success," Lugar, R-Indiana, told CNN's John King. "That may well be true with our allies although conceivably they may have other missions in mind and simply try to get Security Council clearance to proceed."

[4:46 p.m. Monday ET, 10:46 p.m. Monday in Libya] Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi's momentum has stopped and rebels have been able to hold onto areas that government forces had been poised to capture just a few days ago, a U.S. official said Monday.

However, an opposition spokesman said Gadhafi's forces have continued to fight in Mistata, the last city in western Libya under rebel control, despite the Libyan government's declaration of a cease-fire. "There is no cease-fire in Misrata," said Mohamed, who would not divulge his last name out of concern for his safety. "The destruction is unimaginable."

Late Monday, state television reported that Misrata was firmly in the hands of Libyan government forces.

[4:42 p.m. Monday ET, 10:42 p.m. Monday in Libya] The U.N. Security Council has decided to not take action Monday on Libya's request for an emergency meeting on attacks. Discussions will likely continue at a planned Thursday briefing on Libya by U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon.

Libya's government is pressing for an end to what it calls an aggression against the country.

[4:08 p.m. Monday ET, 10:08 p.m. Monday in Libya] Oil prices surged in electronic trading Monday after coalition forces launched an attack on Libyan military targets over the weekend, CNNMoney reports.

The benchmark U.S. contract, West Texas Intermediate, gained as much as $2.28 to top $103 a barrel for April delivery. It later dropped back to settle $1.26 higher at $102.33 a barrel. The more active May contract jumped $1.24 to settle at $103.09 a barrel. It briefly topped $104 in earlier trading.

[3:47 p.m. Monday ET, 9:47 p.m. Monday in Libya] U.S. President Barack Obama is getting heat from a member of his own party regarding the military action in Libya.

Rep. Dennis Kucinich, the seven-term liberal Democrat from Ohio who has twice run for the White House, says Obama committed an "impeachable offense" in deciding to authorize U.S. airstrikes over Libya Saturday without the consent of Congress.

"President Obama moved forward without Congress approving. He didn't have Congressional authorization, he has gone against the Constitution, and that's got to be said," Kucinich told the web site Raw Story on Monday. "It's not even disputable, this isn't even a close question."

[3:33 p.m. Monday ET, 9:33 p.m. Monday in Libya] Below is a video of CNN's Nic Robertson, reporting on explosions that he heard this afternoon in Tripoli. He says he heard at least two blasts, apparently coming from the direction of Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi's compound. Antu-aircraft gunfire followed the blast.

The new explosions come a day after a building in Gadhafi's compound was damaged in an apparent coalition airstrike.

[3:17 p.m. Monday ET, 9:17 p.m. Monday in Libya] Explosions were heard minutes ago in Tripoli, CNN's Nic Robertson reported.

Robertston, who is in Tripoli, said anti-aircraft gunfire has followed the explosions.

[3:08 p.m. Monday ET, 9:08 p.m. Monday in Libya] President Barack Obama, addressing the situation in Libya during a trip to Chile, told reporters that a condition for the United States to step back from leading the Libyan military mission is the disabling of Libya's air defenses. This is so that NATO allies and other coalition partners can effectively enforce a no-fly zone, he said.

"We anticipate this transition to take place in a matter of days, not weeks," Obama said.

[2:58 p.m. Monday ET, 8:58 p.m. Monday in Libya] U.S. President Barack Obama, addressing the situation in Libya during a trip to Chile, said that "it is U.S. policy" that Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi "has to go."

Obama said the core principle of the military mission is that the international community "can't stand by with empty words" in the face of an imminent humanitarian catastrophe such as a leader using military force against his own people.

[1:45 p.m. Monday ET, 7:45 p.m. Monday in Libya] Four New York Times journalists who were reported captured by pro-government forces in Libya last week have been released and have arrived safely in Tunisia, the paper's Executive Editor Bill Keller said Monday in an e-mail obtained by CNN. "We're particularly indebted to the Government of Turkey, which intervened on our behalf to oversee the release of our journalists and bring them to Tunisia," Keller said in the e-mail which was sent to New York Times staff. "We were also assisted throughout the week by diplomats from the United States and United Kingdom."

[12:44 p.m. Monday ET, 6:44 p.m. Monday in Libya] There is no intent to destroy the Libyan military forces, Gen. Carter Ham, a top U.S. commander said Monday, but the coalition will strike against forces that are threatening or attacking civilians, he said.

[12:30 p.m. Monday ET, 6:30 p.m. Monday in Libya] The coalition flew 70 to 80 sorties over Libya on Monday, up from 60 on Sunday, said Gen. Carter Ham, commander of U.S. Africa Command. The United States flew fewer than half of the Monday missions and about half of the Sunday sorties, Ham said.

Canadian and Belgian air force planes flew for the first time Monday. "We are hopeful that other nations will continue to join us," Ham said. "Some have made very firm offers."

[12:26 p.m. Monday ET, 6:26 p.m. Monday in Libya] Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi may remain the leader of Libya after the coalition mission has ended, the commander of U.S. forces said Monday.

"I could see accomplishing the military mission which has been assigned to me and the current leader would remain the current leader," Gen. Carter F. Ham, commander, U.S. Africa Command, said. "Is that ideal? I don't think anyone would say that that is ideal, but I could envision that as a possible situation - at least for the current mission that I have."

[12:19 p.m. Monday ET, 6:19 p.m. Monday in Libya] Coalition strikes not designed to kill Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi, Gen. Carter Ham, commander of U.S. Africa Command, says.

[12:10 p.m. Monday ET, 6:10 p.m. Monday in Libya] There are no U.S. or coalition forces on the ground in Libya, Gen. Carter Ham, commander of U.S. Africa Command, says.

[12:05 p.m. Monday ET, 6:05 p.m. Monday in Libya] Coalition mission doesn't include protecting forces opposed to Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi, Gen. Carter Ham, commander of U.S. Africa Command, said Monday.

[11:32 a.m. Monday ET, 5:32 p.m. Monday in Libya] Coalition members were still working out Monday how the ongoing of maintaining the no-fly zone over Libya would be commanded, U.S. officials said.

NATO could command the coalition's no-fly mission in Libya, but some Arab nations are hesitant to fly under a NATO banner, which has held up the move, said one official, who asked not to be identified due to the sensitivity of negotiations.

The coalition has 10 announced partners: Belgium, Britain, Canada, Denmark, France, Italy, Norway, Qatar, Spain and the United States.

[9:05 a.m. Monday ET, 3:05 p.m. Monday in Libya] The involvement of U.S. military aircraft in strikes on Libya has "plateaued," a spokesman for United States Africa Command says. The U.S. conducted missile strikes overnight, spokesman Vince Crowley said.

[8:23 a.m. Monday ET, 2:18 p.m. Monday in Libya] Four New York Times journalists who were reported captured by pro-government forces in Libya last week have been released and are in the Turkish Embassy in Tripoli, Turkey's ambassador to Libya, Levent Sahin Kaya, told CNN Monday. Read full story.

[7:18 a.m. Monday ET, 1:18 p.m. Monday in Libya] Oil prices surged more than $2 a barrel in electronic trading Monday after coalition forces launched an attack on Libyan military targets on Saturday. The benchmark U.S. contract, West Texas Intermediate, gained $2.11 to $103.18 a barrel for April delivery. The more active May contract jumped $2.21  to $104.06 a barrel.

[6:32 a.m. Monday ET, 12:32 p.m. Monday in Libya] The British Ministry of Defense said it halted a mission to attack a target in Libya because of information about civilians in the area.

"As the RAF GR4 Tornados moved into the area, further information came to light that identified a number of civilians within the intended target area," the ministry said in a statement Monday. "As a result the decision was taken not to launch weapons. This decision underlines the UK's commitment to the protection of civilians."

[6:02 a.m. Monday ET, 12:02 p.m. Monday in Libya] A witness in the Libyan city of Misrata reported "absolute destruction and carnage" by forces supporting leader Moammar Gadhafi on Monday - despite the regime's recent call for a cease-fire.

"Misrata is being flattened and razed to the ground as we speak," said the man, who was not identified safety reasons. "He (Gadhafi) is using tanks and snipers to terrorize the city."

He added, "They are shooting people in the main street and on the back street."

CNN could not independently confirm reports from Misrata early Monday.

[5:57 a.m. Monday ET, 11:57 a.m. Monday in Libya] A group of supporters of Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi chanted "Down with the USA" and confronted UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon as he was leaving the Arab League buidling in Cairo on Monday, a UN spokesman said.

Spokesman Khawla Mattar said Ban was "fine" and "it was not a serious incident." "They were not chanting anti-UN slogans. They were probably just trying to send a message through the UN," he said.

[4:21 a.m. Monday ET, 10:21 a.m. Monday in Libya] The French government disputed claims of civilian deaths in Libya from recent airstrikes.

"There is no information of killed civilians recorded by the French command," French government spokesman Francois Baroin said on the French TV channel Canal+ Monday.

Libyan ruler Moammar Gadhafi's regime claimed that dozens of people - mostly women, children and clerics - have been killed in the international airstrikes that started Saturday.

"We must be cautious of communication campaigns and propaganda. ... This is a military operation and a communications campaign battle," Baroin said. "We have to trust what the international community is communicating."

[2:14 a.m. Monday ET, 8:14 a.m. Monday in Libya] U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates said it would be "unwise" to set specific goals about targeting Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi directly during attacks.

"I think that it's important that we operate within the mandate of the U.N. Security Council resolution," Gates told reporters Sunday while on a plane to Russia. "If we start adding additional objectives, then I think we create a problem in that respect.  I also think that it is unwise to set as specific goals, things that you may or may not be able to achieve."

The Security Council resolution, which passed Thursday, allows member states "to take all necessary measures to protect civilians under threat of attack in the country ... while excluding a foreign occupation force of any form on any part of Libyan territory," according to the United Nations.

[12:34 a.m. Monday ET, 6:34 a.m. Monday in Libya] A coalition military official has confirmed that Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi's compound was targeted by airstrikes Sunday night. The compound was targeted, the official said, because it contains capabilities to exercise command and control over Libyan forces and the coalition goal is to degrade his military capabilities. Earlier, Western journalists, including CNN's Nic Robertson, were brought inside the compound to survey the destruction.

[10:51 p.m. Sunday ET, 4:51 a.m. Monday in Libya] An announced list of the countries participating in the military coalition: The United States, Belgium, Britain, Canada, Denmark, France, Italy, Norway, Qatar and Spain.

U.S. officials have said they plan to hand over operational control of the military mission in coming days.

soundoff (435 Responses)
  1. Col. Bat Guano

    I've been following Kadaffi on Twitter. And everything is okay.

    March 22, 2011 at 12:11 am | Report abuse |
  2. Col. Bat Guano

    I've been following Kadaffi on Twitter. And everything is okay. No worries.

    March 22, 2011 at 12:16 am | Report abuse |
    • Beav

      Hay Bat,
      I knew it! I just knew it! They're just filming a picture show, right!? Gee, Bat, I mean I always liked goin' to
      the beach, what with the sand and all. Jeepers, I just knew it. Thanks again, Bat.
      The Beav

      March 22, 2011 at 1:26 am | Report abuse |
  3. Jan

    Where is Ben ...he was reporting in Bengazi...is he okay.....

    March 22, 2011 at 12:20 am | Report abuse |
  4. John McCain

    @John Macintyre: I would not. That's slanderous and outrageous. I was playing russian roulette with Bobby Deniro in a vietnam rat hole while some "Charlie" kept screaming "MAO!" at me long before you were born. Watch ur lying filthy mouth.

    March 22, 2011 at 12:21 am | Report abuse |
  5. zack

    Guess we didn't learn our lesson after Iraq and Afghanistan debacles. This will end badly.

    Our company Path to Asia http://www.pathtoasia.com/jobs/ helps Americans move to Asia for jobs and prosperity. Visit our site for details.

    March 22, 2011 at 12:41 am | Report abuse |
  6. Will

    I wish Senator B0ner would keep his mouth shut. He practically bent over and spread his cheeks for President Bush every time he talked about obliterating Iraq, but now that we have a Blac...er...Democrat as president he's a Peace and Love Hippie all of a sudden

    March 22, 2011 at 1:03 am | Report abuse |
    • bbarc

      Good point, Will. It is part of their deception to point fingers. This action today would have probably happened either way. Red/Blue. What's the difference?

      March 22, 2011 at 1:25 am | Report abuse |
  7. Charlie

    ...'we will hunt you down in your houses and show you no mercy.' What about this comment to the people he serves would move you to action if you were a Texas congressman? What is the urgency when we don't have a plan he understands? Can we get help for this guy?

    March 22, 2011 at 1:06 am | Report abuse |
  8. Mark Solomons

    I am SO impressed by the level of discourse here – CNN readers are articulate and educated. Obama is lost for even trying because of the Party of No – and he did do the right thing to save lives. Decisive Action.

    March 22, 2011 at 1:17 am | Report abuse |
  9. Right Wing Thug G Note Killah

    Yup John BO-ner is obviously a partisan tool. Both parties make me sick

    March 22, 2011 at 1:21 am | Report abuse |
  10. Right Wing Thug G Note Killah

    @Truth: All media outlets use sensationalism and "spin" regardless of context or facts. I would like to see an end to opinion journalism. At the very least make news outlets have a disclaimer before any "spin" or opinion is being spewed. Americans are too busy to investigate every issue front and back, and the news takes advantage of that.

    March 22, 2011 at 1:27 am | Report abuse |
  11. NoorUlEin, Islamabad, Pakistan

    Is the number of people killed by Gadafi is greater than the number of minority members killed in Pakistan in the name of religion? But USA and UK have been supporting such fundamentalist and extremist governments in Pakistan because they are following dual standards. Why no action against the Bahrain government which is doing the same as Gadafi government? Why no action against Saudi Arabia which is supporting the Bahrain gvernment by sending army to suppress the voice of people?USA and UK have already secured the oil wells in Saudi Arabia so need to take action against it. The minorities in Pakistan do not own oil wells so no need to pressurize the governments in Pakistan to give fundamental rights to the minorities in Pakistan. Shame for the so called civilized world which has dual standards and forgotten everything in their love for oil wells.

    March 22, 2011 at 1:30 am | Report abuse |
  12. GreatUSfooledbylittleChinese

    Ch-ina has never been U.S. ally. It has its own selfish motive and goals.

    It (China) has been dro-olling-over to invade we-aker nations in A-sia to est-ablish its long-time obs-ession to be a Dr-agon Empire but China knew that U.S together with the latter's true Allies in U.N will surely stand on its way. And China also knew that it'll never stand a chance against U.S. in an armed combat that's why they focus more in the economy.

    China sa-botaged the U.S. economy through Receiv-able Disc-ounting and pr-edatory prices. They created big and rep-utable banks that allows indi-viduals that has no ca-pability to pay to own a credit card. They're doing it just to p-ile a huge Acco-unt Receivables in their FS and sold them to Large American-owned investment firms with a disc-ount like AIG and Lehman Brothers.

    The result was Chi-na's big banks had their money back + a little interest while American-owned investment firms are losing large amount of cash from purchase of those (uncollectable garbage) A/Rs, collection and le-gal expenses.

    Also, Ch-ina has been using the glo-balization with their ma-l-ici-ous intent to crip-ple U.S. economy and maximize it to their advantage. Ch-ina is flooding their ju-nks (produced by their own people that are only fed to work) in every market in every nation to pr-edatorily and unfairly compete in terms of prices against big US manufacturing companies and indusriries who are paying and treated their employees well and fairly.

    It caused American companies and industries to t-ighten their belts just to survive the c-ompeti-tion. Most of them cut their production due to low demand and resulted to lay-off. While others resorted underpaying their employees or to hiring (i-llegal) immigrants mostly Chinese. While the rest outsourced their business to other countries mostly to China. It is the reason why American Citizens couldn't find a decent job in their own country.

    It has caused a domino effect to U.S. business and industry and ultim-ately cr-ippled the economy.

    China has been secretly waging economic war against U.S. and winning unless otherwise the U.S. government and economists would realize it and identi-fy Ch-ina as Judas to Jesus for U.S. and will do some measures to stop its (ch-ina's) ev-il ways.

    March 22, 2011 at 1:36 am | Report abuse |
  13. Armagne Blas

    Suggests to all critics of the Coalition against Libya, please review all the events of this country that started only on the peaceful protest of its citizens that resulted to the killings of many innocent civilians by the Gadhafi 's government where its leader is defiant to hear the voice of his own citizens. This killings of the civilians by the pro government is seen around the world and is still continues. Though the UN already called the leader to stop the killings, he still continues to slaughter the civilians. And worst he declare a cease fire but his words is against his action. To all the critics including the Arab League, open your eyes wide, do not be deceived by what Gadhafi says and shown on his own controlled television as they are all questionable about its truth. And please do not connect this political problem in Libya to the previous problem in Iraq and other Arab countries. They are different. We are all concern on the lives of the innocent civilians of Libya. To the Arab League and other critics of the Coalition, think and act for a better solution to save the people of Libya from the slaughter of its leader, talkies doesn't help. And besides we expect the Arab League to do their moves. Long meetings and conferences only prolong the agony of the Libyan people. And to the Coalitions, whose motives is only to save the civilians and not to "grab the oils" as the impressions of others, our Thanks and Praise to you. God bless you all. We pray for the success of your goal.
    The last but not the least, congratulations to Egypt! To Mubarak wish you luck, i admire you for sacrificing your ambition for the interest of your people.

    March 22, 2011 at 1:56 am | Report abuse |
  14. Armagne Blas

    To Anonymous, your opinion regarding the "advertised back out attack" by the British are indeed correct!

    March 22, 2011 at 2:11 am | Report abuse |
  15. NANTOMA MAHAMI

    What UN and Americans are doing,all the world will start to fight their rulling Govt either good or bad

    March 22, 2011 at 2:40 am | Report abuse |
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