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. Human Impetus

    It's already costing us hundreds of millions of dollars. Keep in mind Libya has less than half the population of greater L.A. This is a costly distraction at a time when our debt continues to balloon. What programs shall we cut?
    http://www.humanimpetus.com/2011/03/so-how-much-does-libya-war-cost.html

    March 21, 2011 at 3:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • Graeme Rodgers

      yeah, because money is whats important here. How astute of you. Massacre vs Money and you come out on the side of Money, how un-evolved of you.

      March 21, 2011 at 4:57 pm | Report abuse |
  2. TheLibyanPeople

    Against the war in Libya? let me first state by saying i'm against Obama. I do not think he is liberal enough. When voted for him he seemed way more liberal, now let me get on to my main point. I do agree on the war in Libya, Obama did make a good choice on the invasion of Libya. Unlike Bush, Ragean or any other republican who invade for profit, he invaded for the people of Libya. Gadaffi has blood on his hands he has killed tons of civilians, children even. This is a war that we will not gain profit in, its simply to protect the citizens. You will never see a republican invade a country for that reason and I salute you Obama for a choice well done. Now for those people who are against this war I have a question for you. If you are against this war in Libya. Please look in the eyes of a innocent Libyan child while Gadaffi is holding a gun to his head and tell the child his life is to expensive. I hope that opened you eyes to support this war. A life is priceless. Money is made from paper and cotton.

    March 21, 2011 at 3:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • lolserious?

      "If you are against this war in Libya. Please look in the eyes of a innocent Libyan child while Gadaffi is holding a gun to his head and tell the child his life is to expensive." – TheLibyanPeople

      wow you are actually semi correct i'm against the war in Libya but I could never do such a thing. You made me shed a tear very motivational I'm not supportive of the war still but i'm defiantly no longer a anti war radical

      March 21, 2011 at 3:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • Morgan

      I don't think its gone that far

      March 21, 2011 at 3:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • SunKist

      I don't think you fully understand the situation.

      March 21, 2011 at 3:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • Radical

      Well don't we have a radical here can I give you a situation now? If you are for the war in Libya please look in the eyes rebel and ask him what he is gonna give you back for helping.

      March 21, 2011 at 3:24 pm | Report abuse |
  3. MegynKelly

    Now I wanna adopt a Libyan child.

    March 21, 2011 at 3:21 pm | Report abuse |
  4. MegynKelly

    Now I wanna adopt a Libyan child

    March 21, 2011 at 3:22 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Sue

    Has striking another country becomeso trivial that the commander in chief goes to another country for coffee and photos.

    March 21, 2011 at 3:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • adam

      It's a sign of strength and confidance in our military that the president can order this police action and carry on with the other affairs of our country. Destroying Libya's state war machine will not take long and will prove to be a simple task for our proud men and women in uniform.

      March 21, 2011 at 5:44 pm | Report abuse |
  6. norm

    GADAFI, YOUR JUDGEMENT IS HERE AND WILL CONTINUE....

    IRAN, YOU ARE NEXT, GET READY ALL YOU HYPOCRITE MULLAHS...

    March 21, 2011 at 3:29 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Louis van Tonder

    Get Nick Roberts away from Gaddafi's compound!

    By being there, or even inside the compund, as he was last night, he is in effect used by Gaddafi as a human shield!

    March 21, 2011 at 3:33 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Name*Mannana1

    People of lybia want him out. Now the prez says this bombing is to protect the people? Looks like another whaffle job.

    March 21, 2011 at 3:35 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Susan

    The republicans were upset we were not doing anything and now they are mad we are doing something. They are like two year olds who can't decide what they want at the toy store. Do they really think we intelligent Americans can not see that they switch sides every five seconds. They think this is going to get them more elections? I think not.

    March 21, 2011 at 3:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • Margaret Wells

      Susan...glad to hear somebody else sees this for what it is. Thius is serious stuff, and all of the political grandstanding is really disgusting. what ever happened to supppo0rting our military and our Commander in Chief?
      Obama did this correctly. Sha onme the media for making this a partisan/political issue.

      March 21, 2011 at 7:37 pm | Report abuse |
  10. bostongye

    Dont anybody forget that except for a handful of countries, everyone WANTS us involved in this because they, like us, WANT Gadafhi out of there. This civil war has been a beautifully convenient event for the US and its allies because a decades old enemy who has supported terrorism before it was even a household word is being ousted by his own population in a very organic fashion without major foreign involvement; that of course changed when he began mounting a counteroffensive against them and winning back grounds. Or course they probably won't stand a chance against professional troops and mercenaries, whatever he's using, so the UN stepped in. People have been saying that the targets we're hitting are just going to allow the opposition to win this civil conflict as opposed to simply protecting civilians; no kidding! Don't you think that's what the world (except for Russia, China, etc.) really want? We've wanted that from the get-go.

    March 21, 2011 at 3:39 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Dan Turnquist

    W9lff Blitzer is a shill of the Pentagon. He made no mention that Quaddafi"s attack on Bengazie was stopped just in time by French Air strikes, not American strikes that took place a day latter. If it hadn't been for the French all those tanks and vehicles now burning in the dessert would have been inside Bengazie while the Pentagon was still trying to figure out what to do and was so worried about anti-aircraft that they were not willing to strike desisevly as the French did. And now he tells us, again acting as a shill for the Pentagon by repeating their line that it will be weeks and weeks before the U.S. Military is willing to give up the command role in this operation even though the Pr3esident, the Commander in Chief, has just said it will be days. Wolff says he is ill informed.

    You really ought to try a little harder.

    No wonder other countries are resenful of our inability to give credit when credit is due to someone other than ourselves. I recall thirty years ago when we and the French were supporting the Chadians who were fighting against Quadafi. Even though 90% of the material resources and all the Air and ground assets were French the Pentagon still wanted to be in charge. Their inability to take a back seat hurts our ability to get on with our allies.

    March 21, 2011 at 3:44 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Liz Carter in Georgia

    Will someone please tell me what it is that PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA can do that would EVER be acceptable to the OBAMA antagonists?!? They raised hell about him waiting for the go ahead from the UN's international military alliance. They acted like he was dragging his feet; that he should have just 'shock & awed' LIBYA 3 or 4 weeks ago! 'He's killing black children; their blood is on his hand'! Now, that he has, according to UN regs, authorized US military involvement, they're picking THAT apart! MY GOD!

    March 21, 2011 at 3:45 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Maurice

    Some things, without so many words are just right, and others are wrong. Implementing a no-fly zone to help some civilians against overwhelming air attacks, is RIGHT.

    March 21, 2011 at 3:59 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Hugh Jarce

    Have the British dropped both of their bombs yet?

    March 21, 2011 at 4:02 pm | Report abuse |
  15. nesco343

    Obama HAD to do something...Khadafi is a nutjob and he HAD to act quickly. Bush disobeyed NATO and the rest of the world when they told him NOT to go into Iraq (and by the way, Iraw had NOTHING to do with 911) so the rebubs CAN'T complain about Obama when they were criticising him for not acting earlier !

    Sadam had NOTHING to do with 911, but he STILL bombed Iraq and killed hundreds of thousands of innocent people.

    (and why didn't he bomb Saudi Arabia? The 911 bombers were from there) hmmmmmm....why? Because of the OIL UNDER THE SOIL.

    You people just don't get it do you? We are not "at War" we just bombed an psycho who declared a holy war on everyone in his own country. Reagan did the same thing in the 80's ...remember?

    March 21, 2011 at 4:08 pm | Report abuse |
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