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. Ajest

    A question for the audience, that was never clear to me, about Libya:

    How come in a country with a 30% unemployment rate, they had almost 1,5 M of foreign workers for a 4M Lybians???

    March 21, 2011 at 7:00 am | Report abuse |
  2. Cesar r

    I don't know ajest, why did they?

    March 21, 2011 at 7:06 am | Report abuse |
  3. robroy

    good to see the camel jockey's {rebels}hid amongst the civilians.when the Taliban hide amongst the civilians their known as cowards.when these rebels head towards Tripoli are they going to throw the wife and kids in for the buffer zone.they better talk it over with the meat heads in the U.N.,but by then the U.N. will have made resolution1973 a little more broader in definition!!!! apparently the meaning of collateral damage in Afghanistan for the coalition forces is at the other end of the spectrum then the Libyan forces going after the rebels.the U.N. should tell both sides to go out in the middle of the desert,last side standing gets to light a smoke and have a Budweiser.

    March 21, 2011 at 7:10 am | Report abuse |
    • Maanijak

      robroy you make very good points josh you just sound ignorant what did the gadafi compound have to do with the no fly-zone nothing the arab league was for the no flyzone not for more civilian killing can thai fire missle (or any other missle just using this one as an example) pick and choose who to kill once those missles hit they clear a radius of a football field civilians kids women animals whatever is found there. think about what your saying

      March 21, 2011 at 7:38 am | Report abuse |
    • Maanijak

      *hail-fire*

      March 21, 2011 at 7:40 am | Report abuse |
  4. Jonathan

    What happened to critical analysis of the U. S. position? Many journalists criticized themselves in the run up to the war on Iraq after the fact. They wondered why they hadn't been more critical about assertions of weapons of mass destruction.

    The mainstream media is doing the same thing again. No critical perspective – just regurgitating the U, S. government line about Libya. Who are the rebels? Are they really for democracy or just against Gadhafi? Why are Gadhafi's former generals leading the rebel forces? Have these generals really switched from being part of the military dictatorship to being for democracy? Is attacking Gadhafi's ground forces consistent with the stated "no fly zone"? Why no U.S. action against Bahrain and Yemen, which have also shot, killed and imprisoned many people protesting for democracy? Wake up and do you job as journalists. Otherwise, you're just an unofficial propaganda arm of the government.

    March 21, 2011 at 7:14 am | Report abuse |
    • Maanijak

      awesome post rebeles terrorist its depends on your point of view

      March 21, 2011 at 8:04 am | Report abuse |
  5. anonymous

    It is really brilliant for them to advertise that they won't attack where civilians are gathered. Gives the enemy strategic advantage. Do terrorists like Gadhafi ever restrain themselves when there are large numbers of civilians around? I think not.

    March 21, 2011 at 7:19 am | Report abuse |
  6. Josh

    Unreal, the Arab League was all of the no-fly zone and even though no civilians have been confirmed dead; the Arab League is now complaining about the way it's imposed. They were supposed to help with this no-fly zone and they haven't done a darn thing. Typical and not surprising whatsoever. As far as China goes, they are the biggest hypocrites on this planet. It's ok for them to hack other countries databases, it's ok for child labor in China, it's ok for prison labor in China; but according to China, stopping a genocide is forbidden and looked down upon. Bunch of fools!

    March 21, 2011 at 7:22 am | Report abuse |
  7. Josh

    correction TYPO ^^^^ "the Arab League was all for the no-fly zone" ^^^^ LOL!

    March 21, 2011 at 7:23 am | Report abuse |
  8. LibyanMan

    PPL Please note that Gadafi is just the devil himself he will kill all ppl but he care for is him staying in power so pay attention to his tricks using media and ppl for shield pls also note he is trying to make sure any of what is going on does not reach his home town because then he will lost the rest of the supprort he has so far

    March 21, 2011 at 7:27 am | Report abuse |
  9. Ajest

    The referendum yesterday in Egipt was wery good news. Arab societies will get Democracy, but better to be from social moves towards that aim, even if it takes more time. They will never get there with Western intervention.

    Mahatma Gandy is quite forgotten in modern times....and it's a pity.

    March 21, 2011 at 7:27 am | Report abuse |
  10. Josh

    The Arab League are the biggest back-stabbing cowards. I am so frustrated that they supported the no-fly zone and now they complain about it. Drop a JDAM on the Arab League building in Cairo LOL

    March 21, 2011 at 7:28 am | Report abuse |
  11. Josh

    China and Russia are blind fools and they would do anything as long as it's against what the US says. Don't they see if Gadhafi isn't stopped, Libya will be another Rwanda or Bosnia.....

    March 21, 2011 at 7:34 am | Report abuse |
    • Maanijak

      it won't be another bosnia or rawanda libya we have defind ennemys of the state and the state its not two difrent religons or something like that the

      im not saying gadafi is tottaly right in this he should have stepped down and gave a chance to an ellection not go this far and have foreign intervention

      March 21, 2011 at 7:46 am | Report abuse |
  12. Cesar r

    @Josh, true, but untrue as well. They are fiscally very wise. The U.S. is has not been fiscally responsible since the Clinton administration. Billions and billions in debt we are, as rich China sits back and helps no one but themselves.

    March 21, 2011 at 7:42 am | Report abuse |
    • Josh

      Very true Cesar.. I'm Canadian myself and I'm glad we stayed out of Iraq. Bush cause massive debt for you guys starting expensive wars and lowering taxes at the same time...genius although he's merely a puppet for who's really in control... And because of the rich corporations trying to save a buck and doing business in China, they will now be the new super power. A communist superpower with the world's largest population...hmmm not good LOL

      March 21, 2011 at 8:32 am | Report abuse |
  13. AnnonUSA

    This is why we should not be involved in Libya.

    Who did not see the Arab League changing their tune when things get ugly. This will become another Evil America plot before it's all over. It is time for the Arabs to defend themselves. If recent events have shown anything, they show the biggest enemy of the Arab peoples, are their own leaders and corrupt governments, NOT the UNITED STATES.

    Although by being the world police, we do our best to make it appear that we are an enemy.
    By weeks end, other members of the Coalition will be looking for the political exit from this decisions made here.

    March 21, 2011 at 7:44 am | Report abuse |
    • Josh

      As a Canadian, I see things in a similar way and realize that USA's helping and I respect that Obama backed up his word. Unfortunately these Arab League cowards will make u guys look bad even though the French were the ones who pushed the no-fly zone the most and struck first. Lets face it, in Rwanda UN just sat there and watched the genocide take place. The world learned from that and there would be a genocide in Libya if the west didn't intervene. I'm not saying Libyans will be grateful in the end, they will probably just find another religious-based reason to hate the west again. It's a never ending story and I think the US should just pull out of every muslim nation and let them kill each other.

      March 21, 2011 at 8:44 am | Report abuse |
  14. Jenn

    I dont know why the United States can mind their own business. Dont we have enough problems here?

    March 21, 2011 at 7:45 am | Report abuse |
    • mikeybronx

      You enjoy your way of life here because we mind other peoples business in the world, grow up.

      March 21, 2011 at 8:25 am | Report abuse |
    • ritchie

      it oil buddy, estimated reserves in Libya, USD 4 trillion, imagine how it will boost American, French & British companies if they are successful in ousting Kaddafi.... they will have a puppet and control all infras as in Iraq, with ethnic group killing each other....

      Why wasnt Bush and Blair commited for War Crimes Against Iraqi, there was no WMD. I million Iraqis died.

      March 21, 2011 at 10:04 am | Report abuse |
  15. Richard

    we have tiger blood

    March 21, 2011 at 7:50 am | Report abuse |
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