Libya live blog: U.S., allies launch missiles against Gadhafi forces
A Tomahawk missile is launched from the guided-missile destroyer USS Barry in support of Operation Odyssey Dawn late Saturday night.
March 19th, 2011
09:50 PM ET

Libya live blog: U.S., allies launch missiles against Gadhafi forces

The latest developments on the situation in Libya, where the government declared a cease-fire Friday after the United Nations voted to impose a no-fly zone in response to weeks of bloody clashes between forces loyal to Moammar Gadhafi and rebels. 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.

[9:50 p.m. ET, 3:50 a.m. in Libya] A woman in Tripoli says she was awoken this morning by a loud explosion from a nearby military base.

After being shaken from her sleep around 2:20 a.m., she said she heard gunfire and went to the roof of her building to observe.

"Then I heard the second explosion," she said. She saw fire rising up from the direction of Mitiga Airport, formerly known as the U.S. Wheelus Air Base.

She also said that people continue to live in fear of Gadhafi. "They're afraid to come out because when they do, he attacked them very, very severely," she says. "This is putting terror in all neighborhoods."

[9:30 p.m. ET, 3:30 a.m. in Libya] State TV in Libya reported early Sunday that 48 people were killed and 150 injured in coalition airstrikes. CNN was not immediately able to independently confirm the report.

[9:20 p.m. ET, 3:20 a.m. in Libya] Britain's Royal Air Force the RAF has launched Stormshadow missiles from a number of Tornado GR4 fast jets as part of a series of coordinated coalition strikes against Libya, the Ministry of Defense said.

"We made clear that if Gaddafi did not comply with the UN Security Council Resolution 1973, it would be enforced through military action. Our Armed Forces have therefore participated in a co-ordinated international coalition strike against key military installations," defense secretary Liam Fox said in a statement.

"The fast jets flew 3,000 miles from RAF Marham and back making this the longest range bombing mission conducted by the RAF since the Falklands conflict," he said. "HMS Westminster is off the coast of Libya and HMS Cumberland is in the region ready to support operations. Typhoon aircraft are also standing by to provide support."

[9:10 p.m. ET, 3:10 a.m. in Libya] Benghazi remains eerily quiet but tense after a day of fights between Gadhafi supporters and opposition fighters, CNN's Arwa Damon reports.

Anti-Gadhafi forces in Benghazi were buoyed by the international intervention but still expect more to come from Gadhafi.

"This is not yet a victory for them. They expect Gadhafi forces to carry something out again, they do not think this is over," she said. "People do not take Gadhafi's threats lightly. They have learned from four decades of his rule. They expect him to plan some kind of maneuver."

[8:45 p.m. ET, 2:45 a.m. in Libya] It is now mostly quiet in Tripoli, just minutes after sustained anti-aircraft gunfire, Robertson reports.

[8:33 p.m. ET, 2:33 a.m. in Libya] Heavy anti-aircraft gunfire can be heard in Tripoli, CNN's Nic Robertson reported.

Robertson said anti-aircraft gunfire also was heard a few hours ago, but it is now more intense. The current round followed a couple of loud explosions, Robertson reported from Tripoli.

[8:26 p.m. ET, 2:26 a.m. in Libya] The Department of State has issued a statement reminding media organizations that no U.S. officials remain in Libya, limiting its ability to provide assistance to U.S. citizens or other employees of U.S.-based news organizations. The State Department continues to advise against travel to Libya and urges U.S. citizens already in Libya to depart immediately.

[7:41 p.m. ET, 1:41 a.m. in Libya] After delaying his trip to Russian, U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates has been keeping a close eye on the situation in Libya, a Pentagon spokesman said.

"Secretary Gates has been in near constant contact with the Joint Staff as planning for Operation Odyssey Dawn has evolved. He has conducted multiple individual and conference with National Security Adviser Donilon and President Obama. And, of course, he continues to receive a steady flow of operational and intelligence information," spokesman Geoff Morrell said.

[6:20 p.m. ET, 12:20 a.m. in Libya] A defiant Moammar Gadhafi says missile strikes launched Saturday night are grounds for a "crusade war" and vowed to fight back.

"The Libyan people will fight against this aggression. All you people of the Islamic nations and Africa. And all you people in Latin America, and asia to stand with the Libyan people in its fight agaist this aggression," he said.

"France has carried an aggression against Libya. The security council and the international community has a responsibility to do what it takes about this aggression against the sovereign state."

[6:01 p.m. ET, 12:01 a.m. in Libya] Hours after coalition forces launched the first wave of attacks against his military forces, Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi said his people will fight back against undeserved "naked aggression."

Libyan state TV broadcast Gadhafi's response, which included a call for people to take arms in the "war zone."

[5:45 p.m. ET, 11:45 p.m. in Libya] Moammar Gadhafi is due to make an address soon, according to media reports citing Libyan TV.

[5:36 p.m. ET, 11:36 p.m. in Libya] Russia reacted "with regret" Saturday to the start of international military action in Libya, urging an end to violence on all sides.

It said the United Nations resolution that authorized the use of force had been "hastily adopted."

"We again urge all Libyan sides, as well as the participants of the military operation, to do everything they can to prevent the suffering of innocent civilians and to ensure a speedy cease-fire and an end to violence," the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

[5:04 p.m. ET, 11:04 p.m. in Libya] Armed police are gathering outside government buildings in Tripoli and the streets are mostly clear of the revelers that had gathered earlier Saturday evening, CNN's Nic Robertson said.

Earlier, people were playing music and dancing in the street outside Gadhafi's palace compound in an apparent show of celebration, Roberston said. The missile strikes were inaudible over the music and revelry, he said.

[5:04 p.m. ET, 11:04 p.m. in Libya] Coalition strikes were launched despite a government-initiated cease-fire and "major reforms in economic and organizational contexts," a Libyan government spokesman says.

"The claim that this aggression is for the protection of civilians is contradicted by what has really happened on the ground tonight."

[5:04 p.m. ET, 11:04 p.m. in Libya] President Obama is planning for the U.S. portion of the military action in Libya to only last for a few days, according to a senior administration official.

"In terms of the heavy kinetic portion of this military action, the president envisions it as lasting days, not weeks," said the senior official. "After that we'll take more of a supporting role."

[4:58 p.m. ET, 10:58 p.m. in Libya] Air attacks on several locations in Tripoli and Misrata have caused "real harm" to civilians, a Libyan government spokesman said Saturday.

"I am very sorry and saddened that my country is facing a barbaric and armed attack," the spokesman said, adding that "this aggression will not weaken our spirits."

[4:28 p.m. ET, 10:28 p.m. in Libya] More than 110 Tomahawk cruise missiles were fired from U.S and British ships and submarines, striking more than 20 integrated air defense systems and air defense facilities ashore, a Joint Chiefs of Staff official said Saturday.

The goals of "Operation Odyssey Dawn" are to prevent further attacks on Libyan citizens and opposition groups and to degrade the capability of Moammar Gadhafi's forces to resist a no-fly zone, Vice Admiral William E. Gortney Director said.

The strikes were carefully coordinated based on an assessment of whether the targets posed a direct threat to coalition pilots or to the people of Libya, he said.

"This is an international military effort urged by the Libyan people themselves and other Arab nations," Gortney said, noting that U.S. military forces are on the "leadership edge" of the operation.

"This is just the first phase of what will likely be a multi-phase designed to enforce the U.N. Security Council resolution."

[4:10 p.m. ET, 10:10 p.m. in Libya] U.S. President Barack Obama said military action in Libya is not an outcome the United States had sought.

"The use of force is not our first choice, and it is not a choice I make lightly," he said in an audio message from Brazil. "But we cannot stand idly by when a tyrant tells his people that there will be no mercy and his forces step up their assault."

He also said the United States will not deploy any U.S. troops on the ground on Libya. Obama emphasized that the United States was acting as part of a broad coalition of U.S. allies to enforce the U.N. Security Council resolution, and not unilaterally.

"The writ of the international community must be enforced," he said. "We are answering the calls of a threatened people and we are acting in the interests of the United States and the world."

[3:55 p.m. ET, 9:55 p.m. in Libya] The U.S. military has launched its first missiles in Libya against Moammar Gadhafi's forces in the western part of the country, a senior Defense Department official said Saturday.

U.S. Tomahawk missiles landed in the area around Tripoli and Misrata, the official said, adding that the action was taken after Gadhafi failed to comply with a cease-fire.

The first part of the multi-phase approach will be to degrade air defenses, CNN's Chris Lawrence reports, citing the Defense Department official. Most of the first strikes will be concentrated around Tripoli and Misrata, specifically to take out his air defenses. Ground forces will be targeted as well because they carry capability to shoot down planes, the official said.

[3:44 p.m. ET, 9:44 p.m. in Libya] British Prime Minister David Cameron said military action was necessary to enforce the cease-fire and prevent Moammar Gadhafi from attacking his people.

"What we are doing is necessary, it is legal and it is right," he said. "I believe we should not stand aside while this dictator murders his own people."

[2:32 p.m. ET, 8:32 p.m. in Libya] A U.S. defense official said the United States is poised to launch cruise missiles from warships in the Mediterranean Sea, and that these strikes would target Moammar Gadhafi's air defenses. The United States is prepared to "defend its allies flying over Libyan airspace and enforce the no-fly zone," the official said.

[1:15 p.m. ET, 7:15 p.m. in Libya] French planes fired on a Libyan military vehicle Saturday evening, according to the French Defense Ministry.

[12:43 p.m. ET, 6:43 p.m. in Libya] The United States is standing with its allies and partners in enforcing the U.N. resolution on Libya, and it is also behind the Libyan people, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Saturday. "We will stand with the people of Libya and we will not waiver (in our effort) to protect them," she said.

[12:39 p.m. ET, 6:39 p.m. in Libya] Secretary of State Hillary Clinton praised the Arab League's stance on Libya, saying it "changed the diplomatic landscape." The group last week approved the establishment of a no-fly zone in Libya.

[12:36 p.m. ET, 6:36 p.m. in Libya] The Libyan government "has lost all legitimacy," Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Saturday, adding that the international community is right to enforce immediately the United Nations resolution. "Further delay will only put more civilians at risk," she said in Paris.

[12:34 p.m. ET, 6:34 p.m. in Libya] Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said that despite talk of a cease-fire from Libya, Moammar Gadhafi "continues to defy the world." "His attacks on civilians go on," she told reporters Saturday.

[11:04 a.m. ET, 5:04 p.m. in Libya] The French air force is opposing any aggression by Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi against the population of rebel-held Benghazi, French President Nicolas Sarkozy said Saturday. "As of now, our aircraft are preventing planes from attacking the town," Sarkozy said. "Our French aircraft are ready to intervene against tanks."

[10:58 a.m. ET, 4:58 p.m. in Libya] Countries attending a meeting in Paris sent Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi a warning, French President Nicolas Sarkozy said Saturday.

"If there is not an immediate cease-fire and withdrawal of the forces that have been attacking civilian populations in the last few weeks, our countries will have recourse to military means," Sarkozy said. Sarkozy said the warning was endorsed by all participants at the Paris summit.

Libya's population "must not be deprived of its rights by violence and terror," Sarkozy said. "There is still time for Colonel Gadhafi to avoid the worst, by complying immediately and unreservedly with all the demands of the international community. The doors of diplomacy will open once again when the aggression stops."

[10:51 a.m. ET, 4:51 p.m. in Libya] U.S., European and Arab leaders met Saturday at a last-minute Paris meeting on Libya.  "There is minute-by-minute consultation between the United States and the militaries of other countries that are considering their support of action" under a U.N. resolution authorizing the use of force, a senior State Department official told reporters.

[10:40 a.m. ET, 4:40 p.m. in Libya] A French official confirms that French fighter jets are flying over Libya.

[9:55 a.m. ET, 3:55 p.m. in Libya] Moammar Gadhafi's military forces pushed into the rebel stronghold of Benghazi on Saturday. Artillery rounds landed inside the city, and pro-Gadhafi tanks rolled into the town firing rounds, witnesses said. Plumes of smoke rose in Benghazi as civilians said buildings came under small arms fire.

[7:35 a.m. ET, 1:35 p.m. in Libya] Oil production has been dropping and Libya wants foreign and Libyan employees to go back to the oil fields, Libyan oil minister Shukri Ghanem told reporters Saturday.

[6:19 a.m. ET Saturday, 12:19 p.m. in Libya] Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi's government on Saturday sent harsh messages to leaders such as U.S. President Barack Obama and French President Nicolas Sarkozy. "You have no right ever to intervene in our internal affairs," said a letter read by Libyan government spokesman Musa Ibrahim. The letter also said the government would never fire "a single bullet" against its citizens. Gadhafi's government continued to blame the conflict in Libya on al Qaeda.

[6:05 a.m. ET Saturday, 12:05 p.m. in Libya] A CNN team saw tanks belonging to forces loyal to Moammar Gadhafi enter Benghazi on Saturday, and observed rebel tanks moving to confront them. Tank, mortar and artillery fire echoed across the city, interspersed with sustained bursts of small arms fire. Plumes of smoke could been seen rising above Benghazi.

[4:35 a.m. ET Saturday, 10:35 a.m. in Libya] CNN journalists observed tanks moving north from 5 kilometers south of Benghazi and other tanks moving through the western part of the city. It is not known which side the tanks belonged to. The journalists also saw tank and artillery rounds land inside the city.

[3:56 a.m. ET Saturday, 9:56 a.m. in Libya] A fighter jet was shot down and burst into flames Saturday in the area of Benghazi. Meanwhile, explosions could be heard in the city, which has been a stronghold for rebels opposing Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi. It was not immediately clear who the fighter jet belonged to. Rebels have vowed to defend Benghazi to the death.

On Friday, the Libyan government said it was abiding by a cease-fire, but witnesses have said violence from pro-Gadhafi forces has continued.

[12:23 a.m. ET Saturday, 6:23 a.m. in Libya] Agence France-Presse reported airstrikes and explosions Saturday morning in an area southwest of Benghazi. CNN had not independently confirmed the report.

soundoff (770 Responses)
  1. Antonios

    join my facebook group LYBIA INVASION " SAY NO"

    March 19, 2011 at 10:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mark

      No, that's a stupid group name. No one wants to invade Libya, but Kadafi and the corruption surrounding him needs to be removed like a cancerous, murderous, tumor.

      March 20, 2011 at 12:35 am | Report abuse |
  2. Steve

    Why is it ok for this President to help eliminate a ruthless dictator and murderer of his own people, but it wasn't ok for Bush? I am so confused with the "logic" of the left mindset. Didn't then, Senator, Obama say what a terrible thing all this kinda stuff this is and that he would never do this? Wow, what a hypocrite.

    March 19, 2011 at 10:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mark

      Bush lied about the WMD to garner support for his invasion of IRAQ with Karl Rove's advice, he was Karl Rove's puppet, and he lied to the American people and the international community... That war should have never happened. This was a NATO decision to protect the lives of innocent people, and was not based on a lie. Was it really that difficult to see the difference? You must love W Bush. Go back to fox news, racist ignorant tea bagger.

      March 20, 2011 at 12:38 am | Report abuse |
  3. Luis

    All this! It really seems like Suez in 1956.
    France and their traditional geopolitical interests in North Africa (resources – oil and gas). UK (this time with US) trying to stop the spread of a "radical islam" (comunism in 1956) and oil rou...tes and interests (BP is the major oil player in Lybia) in Med region.
    Hope the final outcome will not be the same: Main winner was the ditactor (Nasser in 1956)...

    Other point: Am I being too pessimist or it can happen in Lybia the same thing that happened in Iraq with Saddam in 2003? Then the coalition destroyed the Iraqui Army and the aftermath was desastrous – the caos, where islamic radicals seized ...the opportunity to spread their terror tentacles among population. (Today I'm really in a "historic mood" ;))
    I really think that this "strange- kind-of-coalition-led-by-France" does not has a coherent strategy do deal with this huge problem. What is the END (purpose and/or end-state) for all this? And just change the Regime is too short here. Lybia is not Egypt!! And another strategic component: the MEANS! Without troops on the ground, no way to decisive aftermath. So, what is this?
    Of course, this Cultural Youth Revolution in the Near East has all the potential to be something good for the world. Let´s seize it.

    March 19, 2011 at 10:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • Kadafi

      Cultural Youth Revolution? What are you talking about? There is no such thing in Lybia! Get your facts straight! These are Western trained rebels-the leaders had meetings in Seattle and UK the last few years! May they all lose!

      March 19, 2011 at 10:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mark

      Kadafi, I feel sorry for you. May your corrupt and murderous regime of kadafi be defeated swiftly, and may the country be healthy where the people can govern themselves and hold free elections, like other modern nations. The "rebels" are the good guys. You aren't very bright.

      March 20, 2011 at 12:40 am | Report abuse |
    • Kadafi

      Mark, of course you are! I can't wait for the aftermath! This is only the beginning!

      March 20, 2011 at 2:58 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Steve

    The Obamanator!!! 😉

    March 19, 2011 at 10:41 pm | Report abuse |
  5. HaL

    U.S. didn't need to get involved. Already stretched thin with the other ongoing wars.. Not supporting Gaddafi.. hes screwed up.. but.. why not let them duke it out..?!

    March 19, 2011 at 10:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mark

      gee I don't know, maybe because innocent people are being murdered?

      March 20, 2011 at 12:38 am | Report abuse |
  6. Jr

    Choosing not to choose IS A CHOICE.
    Just like the song goes: " walk the talk".
    If you know something is wrong,
    and that "thing" causes more harm
    than good in this world, then maybe
    the world is better off without that "thing".
    This moral applies to a great many things.
    Mohammad was a great man, and had
    many great teachings and beliefs.
    Too bad everyone seems too busy talking.......
    Like to see a little arab walking for once.

    March 19, 2011 at 10:44 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Mike

    so if this is about oil, which it probably is, I guess all of you people who are saying stay out of it, would rather have $6-a-gallon gas then.... wow, even when we fight for oil, its in our countries interest. sounds evil, but if we just minded our own business then we would be a second class power.... its called leadership, we do things for our country that others dont. id like to see one of you "normal" folk be a leader of a country and do the "right" thing.

    March 19, 2011 at 10:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • Kadafi

      And that is why you will not live to enjoy that cheap oil! You attack others and they will not forgive it it! never! then one day, your children are attack not knowing what they have done to deserve that! Good luck!

      March 19, 2011 at 11:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mark

      Yes. We really should just take over all third world country oil reserves and establish military bases to protect them. It's been proven time and time again these 3rd world countries and their primitive leadership can't handle it.

      March 20, 2011 at 12:42 am | Report abuse |
  8. Jean Paul

    You know that all this is about is price at the pump. We ignore mass graves in lower africa between cival wars and just do the feel good act of sending food and medication on an already strained economy. I myself have no problem with playing world police if the price is right. If I am in the middle east I want oil alot of it. If i am to play the good little cop and "free" the world make it worth the time here at home with resources cheaper living, more jobs, and where our kids don't have to pay for our selfish mistakes in our budgets. The reality is we don't NEED the poor , the sick, the without. We want your best , your brightest and the most wealthy. This conflict is all a simple show for the baking mom at home, the less than collage educated, and the young person who always thinks change is good type. They need something that makes them feel better about them selfs, that there making a diffrence. Most just trying to ignore the fact there in debt, out of work cause they lack humility and the system at the moment supports the free ride on unemployment. Fix the problems here first or be the world cop, with a price that can fix the here problems we have.

    March 19, 2011 at 10:44 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Jean Paul

    You know that all this is about is price at the pump. We ignore mass graves in lower africa between cival wars and just do the feel good act of sending food and medication on an already strained economy. I myself have no problem with playing world police if the price is right. If I am in the middle east I want oil alot of it. If i am to play the good little cop and "free" the world make it worth the time here at home with resources cheaper living, more jobs, and where our kids don't have to pay for our selfish mistakes in our budgets. The reality is we don't NEED the poor , the sick, the without. We want your best , your brightest and the most wealthy. This conflict is all a simple show for the baking mom at home, the less than collage educated, and the young person who always thinks change is good type. They need something that makes them feel better about them selfs, that there making a diffrence. Most just trying to ignore the fact there in debt, out of work cause they lack humility and the system at the moment supports the free ride on unemployment. Fix the problems here first or be the world cop, with a price that can fix the here problems we have.

    March 19, 2011 at 10:45 pm | Report abuse |
  10. ZECA

    I'm sorry I just get so heated during such discussions. The US military has not been ordered into Arizona to seek out illegals, nor did the US military massacre all the pro-mexican demonstrators at their rallies. In fact the US didn't intervene in Egypt, because there was no massacre of civilians by the Egyptian military and didn't warrant such an action. I once had a discussion with another blogger on another site about Iraq. He asked me if replacing one theocracy with another was worth going to war and the obvious answer is no. I believe the US made the decision with other countries to act this time because they believe they can help opposition to a tyrant without full scale war as Obama has clearly stated. A nation deporting illegal border crossing individuals is nothing like opening fire on them as they try to cross. I can't believe I even made such a ridiculous parallel. I apologize, but I haven't gone far in school and don't really care for games such as chess, because I lack the patience to think 4 steps ahead. I won't post nonsense anymore. Unless I feel like trolling.

    March 19, 2011 at 10:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • Kadafi

      No Zeca, you are right, the USA does not shoot illegal immigrants! It simply puts mothers of 3 months old in jails all around the country even if they have not committed any other wrongs than being illegal and let them die in jail-see the records, check places like etowah county jail in gadsden alabama! Fix your own problems and leave the world alone! Everyone is tired of the USA! It used to be the country everyone admired! No longer! you guys are simply greedy and blood suckers!

      March 19, 2011 at 11:16 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Jean Paul

    @ Michael
    problem is we try to fix things according to a dumbdowned americian population. The more folks vote the lower the total IQ.

    March 19, 2011 at 10:47 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Lord Moses

    This is the weakest UN resolution I have witnessed....When CNN started promoting the agenda of the rebellion, and giving and impression that they are gaining on Gadhafi, all seemed ok, but when he fought back, they called it an attack on innocent civilian. And the UN, that has not been able to do anything effective against North Korea and Iran, was quick to pass a resolution against Gadhafi., I hope that after they are done with Gadhafi, France will take the lead on forcing Iran to abandon its nuclear ambition, and Britain will take the lead on North Korea.

    March 19, 2011 at 10:51 pm | Report abuse |
  13. VERY-SAD

    Nic robertson and CNN are absolutely very happy now, they succeeded to convince OBAMA to join in this very useless and dangerous new adventure of US, after IRAQ and Afganistan, What, who is next? Probably, Hugo or Fidel? The UN AND US steps and actions in this century is nothing but all EVIL. When I was very young I used to love, have great admiration with America as a great nation, but that was just yesterday. I beleive that AMERICA not THE TERRORIST will put our world into total destruction...

    March 19, 2011 at 10:51 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Jorge

    Here we go again! isn't this the government that condems "throwing presidents out of power" last time I checked Bush was condemmed because of his actions in Iraq and Afghanistan. I am not saving the guy or stating what he did was right, but you can see the hypocrisy of the dems here. United States military is not the world police! if countries want to kill each other because they hate their president, let them. We already have enough problems as it is, we don't have jobs, our veterans are not getting the proper help, and they are not getting any help and even when they try to go back "the military tells them that all the vacancies are up" so yeah, let's try to fix our own problem Obama and lets stop worrying about other countries who don't care about western democracy!

    March 19, 2011 at 10:51 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Cindy Ferraro

    To all those of you opposed to saving these poor oppressed people – STOP for a minute, close your eyes and picture yourself, your spouse, your children and your parents all huddled in the middle of an apartment, staying away from the windows to prevent YOUR President or YOUR Prime Minister sending his soldiers to kill you and yours for NO reason at all. Now ..... do you still oppose these joint coalition effort? If you do, you deserve to die however your family does not....... you are blind if you can't see this.

    March 19, 2011 at 10:56 pm | Report abuse |
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