Libya live blog: Coalition confirms strike on Gadhafi compound
A four-story building at the Tripoli compound of Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi was damaged Sunday night, apparently by a coalition airstrike.
March 20th, 2011
10:53 AM ET

Libya live blog: Coalition confirms strike on Gadhafi compound

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.

[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.

[8:55 p.m. Sunday ET, 2:55 a.m. Monday in Libya] In the following video, CNN's Nic Robertson reports on his visit to the building - in Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi's compound in Tripoli - that apparently was struck in a coalition airstrike Sunday night. (A coalition official confirmed, after Robertson's report, that it had targeted the compound.)

[8:36 p.m. Sunday ET, 2:36 a.m. Monday in Libya] A coalition military official has confirmed that Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi's compound in Tripoli was targeted by airstrikes Sunday night, CNN's Chris Lawrence reported.

The official said the compound was targeted because it contains capabilities to exercise command and control over Libyan forces and the coalition goal is to degrade his military capabilities. The official said neither Gadhafi nor his residence was the intended target.

Earlier, the Libyan government said at least one missile struck a building inside the compound Sunday night. Western journalists, including CNN's Nic Robertson, were brought inside the compound to survey the destruction.

[8:26 p.m. Sunday ET, 2:26 a.m. Monday in Libya] Oil prices jumped more than $2 a barrel in electronic trading Sunday following escalating violence in Libya, where international forces fired on Libyan defense sites, CNNMoney reported.

The benchmark U.S. contract, West Texas Intermediate, for April delivery gained $1.95 to $103.02 a barrel. The more active May contract jumped $2.08 to $103.93 a barrel.

[8:10 p.m. Sunday ET, 2:10 a.m. Monday in Libya] The Gadhafi-compound building in Tripoli that was damaged in what may have been a missile attack Sunday night is about 150 yards away from a Gadhafi building that was struck in a 1986 U.S. airstrike, CNN's Nic Robertson reported.

[7:56 p.m. Sunday ET, 1:56 a.m. Monday in Libya] A member of the Libyan opposition told CNN that the Gadhafi government collected bodies of people killed in fighting in the past week and displayed them over the weekend, trying to show they were killed by coalition airstrikes. The claim by Ahmed Gebreel, who cited eyewitnesses and medical officials, could not be verified by CNN.

The Libyan government has claimed that women, children and clerics have died in allied attacks.

[7:15 p.m. Sunday ET, 1:15 a.m. Monday in Libya] A building at Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi's compound in Tripoli was damaged by at least one missile about 2.5 hours ago, a Libyan government official tells CNN's Nic Robertson.

Robertson said government officials took him to the four-story building. The roof has collapsed, he said. Robertson said he isn't able to verify what caused the damage, but the government's timeline coincides with a blast that Robertson heard late Sunday, and the building looks as if it were hit by missiles, Robertson reported.

Robertson said he doesn't know where Gadhafi is, and that there is no evidence that he is at the compound. No one was injured in the strike on the building, a Libyan government official told Robertson.

U.S. officials earlier Sunday said they are not targeting Gadhafi.

[6:36 p.m. Sunday ET, 12:36 a.m. Monday in Libya] President Obama and his national security team made phone calls Sunday to try to shore up support in Arab governments for the military mission in Libya, with top White House aides reaching out to officials of the Arab League to insist the bombing does not exceed the scope of a U.N. mandate, according to senior administration officials.

The lobbying came after Arab League officials complained earlier Sunday that airstrikes in Libya by the U.S. military and allies went beyond instituting a no-fly zone, CNN's Ed Henry reports. The senior officials said the Obama team stressed to the Arab League that bombing Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi's air defenses falls within the U.N. Security Council resolution's scope of imposing a no-fly zone and taking "all necessary measures" to stop the dictator from attacking civilians in his own country.

[5:57 p.m. Sunday ET, 11:57 p.m. in Libya] Defense Secretary Robert Gates said Sunday that the Libyan operation is off to a "a strong and successful start" but he warned against widening the goals of the mission beyond what was spelled out in the United Nations Security Council resolution. Gates spoke from aboard a U.S. military aircraft en route to Russia.

[5:40 p.m. Sunday ET, 11:40 p.m. in Libya] Reacting to the Libyan military's calling a cease-fire with rebels, a British prime minister's office spokesman drew attention to the Libyan government's previous call for a cease-fire, made Friday.

"Everyone will recall that in recent days Col. Gadhafi declared a ceasefire which was promptly violated," the 10 Downing Street spokesman said. "We said then we would judge him on his actions not his words - and we will do so again.

"His obligations are very clearly set out by the U.N. Security Council resolution. Our assessment is that he is in breach of these obligations so we will continue to enforce the resolution."

The Libyan government had called for a cease-fire with rebels on Friday. Rebels and Western governments, however, said the Libyan military continued to fight against the opposition, leading to the international coalition's airstrikes and no-fly-zone implementation on Saturday night.

[5:35 p.m. Sunday ET, 11:35 p.m. in Libya] More on U.S. Vice Adm. Bill Gortney comments on Gadhafi: Gortney was asked about reports of smoking rise from the area of Gadhafi's palace. Gortney said: "We are not targeting his residence."

[5:16 p.m. Sunday ET, 11:16 p.m. in Libya] In his press briefing earlier this afternoon, U.S. Vice Adm. Bill Gortney emphasized that the international coalition's air campaign is not deisgned to target Gadhafi, but is limited to enforcing a no-fly zone and preventing Gadhafi's forces from further pressing rebel positions.

"We are not going after Gadhafi," Gortney said at the Pentagon. "Regime forces are more pressed and less free to maneuver."

Despite Libyan government contentions that women, children and clerics have died in allied attacks, Gortney and other officials said that's not the case. "We have no indication of any civilian casualties," the admiral said.

[4:47 p.m. Sunday ET, 10:47 p.m. in Libya] Reacting to the Libyan military's call Sunday night for an immediate cease-fire, a spokesman for the U.S. military's Africa Command said that "we have to wait and see if it's genuine."

"We urge the Libyan government to do everything it can to demonstrate its sincerity," U.S. Africa Command spokesman Vince Crawley told CNN.

The Libyan government previously had called for a cease-fire with rebels on Friday. Rebels and Western governments, however, said the Libyan military continued to fight against the opposition, leading to the international coalition's airstrikes and no-fly-zone implementation on Saturday night.

Gadhafi's forces shelled opposition forces in the west of the country on Sunday before the call for the cease-fire was made, according to rebels.

[4:42 p.m. Sunday ET, 10:42 p.m. in Libya] Anti-Gadhafi forces are heartened by international coalition attacks that smashed a convoy of about 70 military vehicles belonging to pro-Gadhafi forces outside of Benghazi on Sunday. But they are increasingly concerned that pro-government elements within Benghazi's population will carry out intimidation campaigns and targeted assassinations of opposition leaders in the rebel stronghold in eastern Libya, CNN's Arwa Damon reports.

[4:34 p.m. Sunday ET, 10:34 p.m. in Libya] Senator Richard Lugar, R-Indiana, has questioned the decision by the United States to pursue military action in Libya without clearly defined objectives, and expressed concern over the role of the U.S. in Libya's future.

"Where does our involvement stop?" Lugar, the ranking Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, asked. "This is why, before it begins, we ought to have a plan and we ought to have outcomes defined as to why American forces, American money are going to be at stake."

[4:23 p.m. Sunday ET, 10:23 p.m. in Libya] U.S. House Speaker John Boehner has released a sharply worded statement in Washington pressing President Barack Obama to lay out more detail about the administration's goals in Libya.

"Before any further military commitments are made, the administration must do a better job of communicating to the American people and to Congress about our mission in Libya and how it will be achieved," Boehner said in the prepared statement.

Shortly after Boehner's statement was released, Obama - who is in Brazil - said in a speech that the people of Libya have taken "a courageous stand against a regime determined to brutalize its own citizens."

"Across the region, we have seen young people rise up – a new generation demanding the right to determine their own future," added Obama. "From the beginning, we have made clear that the change they seek must be driven by their own people."

[4:08 p.m. Sunday ET, 10:08 p.m. in Libya] At least two explosions could be heard moments ago in Libya's capital, and anti-aircraft fire has followed, CNN's Nic Robertson reported.

[4:06 p.m. Sunday ET, 10:06 p.m. in Libya] Coalition strikes have been "very effective in significantly degrading the regime's air defense capability," U.S Vice Adm. William Gortney said in a briefing Sunday.

[3:37 p.m. Sunday ET, 9:37 p.m. in Libya] The United States and Britain have now fired a total of 124 Tomahawk missiles at Libya's air defense sites since strikes began Saturday night, Africa Command spokesman Vince Crawley says.

[3:04 p.m. Sunday ET, 9:04 p.m. in Libya] The Libyan military has called for an immediate cease-fire, an army spokesman announced Sunday.

The Libyan government previously had called for a cease-fire with rebels on Friday. Rebels and Western governments, however, said the Libyan military continued to fight against the opposition, leading to the international coalition's airstrikes and no-fly-zone implementation on Saturday night.

[2:27 p.m. Sunday ET, 8:27 p.m. in Libya] Libya initiated anti-aircraft fire into the Tripoli sky Sunday night, though an attack by allied forces was not apparent, CNN's Nic Robertson reported.

[2:04 p.m. Sunday ET, 8:05 p.m. in Libya] A senior doctor at the medical center in Benghazi, Libya, confirmed Sunday that 95 people were killed and an unknown number injured in Saturday's assault on the city by pro-Gadhafi forces.

[1:53 p.m. Sunday ET, 7:53 p.m. in Libya] U.S. President Barack Obama participated in a secure conference call and received a briefing on U.S. military operations in Libya on Sunday morning, the White House said in a statement.

[1:34 p.m. Sunday ET, 7:24 p.m. in Libya] The Arab League was holding an emergency session at its headquarters in Cairo, Egypt. Hisham Youssef, Arab League Chief of Staff, told CNN, "We are currently studying the situation and evaluating the air strikes to be able to decide." He said the League has not "taken any stand or reached a final decision." Read more about the Arab League and its role in the Libyan crisis. Watch CNN's Reza Sayah discuss the Arab League.

[1:15 p.m. Sunday ET,  7 p.m. in Libya] Qatar has offered to send four fighter planes to the coalition effort, the French Defense Ministry said.

[11:45 a.m. Sunday ET, 5:45 p.m. in Libya] Italy announced that as of midnight Sunday, four Tornado warplanes and four F-16s will be made available.

[11:00 a.m. Sunday ET, 5 p.m. in Libya] A critique of the U.S. involvement in the military intervention in Libya that will no doubt be common in coming days is that the Obama administration is making a large error by embarking on a war with a third Muslim country, as if reversing Moammar Gadhafi's momentum against the rebels will be a rerun of the debacle of the war against Saddam Hussein. Peter Bergen explains why what's happening Libya isn't the same as what happened in Iraq.

[10:45 a.m. Sunday ET, 4:45 p.m. in Libya] Russia urged coalition nations to stop the use of force against Libya, challenging the use of the U.N. no-fly zone resolution as a "controversial step." In a statement published on its website, Russia's Foreign Ministry said air strikes carried out by coalition forces killed 48 civilians and injured 150.

[10 a.m. Sunday ET, 4 p.m. in Libya] Turkey will serve as a "protecting power" for the United States in Libya, senior State Department officials told CNN. As a protecting power, Turkey will represent the United States in Libya, including acting as consular officers on behalf of U.S. citizens in Libya and looking after American diplomatic facilities in the country. Turkey can also pass messages between the U.S. and Libya. Full story

[8:23 a.m. Sunday ET, 2:23 p.m. in Libya] A military convoy near Benghazi in eastern Libya was destroyed by multiple airstrikes, leaving charred bodies, tanks and trucks, CNN's Arwa Damon reported from the scene.

- A no-fly zone in Libya is "effectively in place," U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen told CNN.

[6:53 a.m. Sunday ET, 12:53 p.m. in Libya] Forces loyal to Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi were shelling the city of Misrata on Sunday, using tanks, artillery and cannons, a witness said. Rebels in the city were fighting back, the witness said. There was no immediate word on casualties.

[6:36 a.m. Sunday ET, 12:36 p.m. in Libya] Nineteen U.S. warplanes, including stealth bombers and fighter jets, conducted strike operations in Libya on Sunday morning. The warplanes included Marine Corps Harrier Jets, Air Force B-2 stealth bombers, and F-15 and F-16 fighter jets, according to Lt. Cmdr. James Stockman of U.S. Africa Command. It is the next phase in the operation that started Saturday with the launch of more than 110 Tomahawk Cruise missiles from U.S. and British warships and subs.

[5:40 a.m. Sunday ET, 11:40 a.m. in Libya] In another defiant speech, Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi promised "a long-drawn war" after international airstrikes in his country by the United States and allies.

"You have proven to the world that you are not civilized, that you are terrorists - animals attacking a safe nation that did nothing against you," Gadhafi said in a televised speech.

Throughout the address, an image of a golden fist crushing a model plane that said "USA" filled the screen.

Gadhafi said the strikes was a confrontation between the Libyan people and "the new Nazis."

"If the men are killed, then the women will take over. They will hold the green flag high," he said.

[5:35 a.m. Sunday ET, 11:35 a.m. in Libya] An eyewitnesses in Misrata claims there is heavy artillery and tank fire under way in the town. The eyewitness also claims no aircraft have been seen or heard.

[5:26 a.m. Sunday ET, 11:26 a.m. in Libya] Libyan TV has announced that Moammar Gadhafi "will address the Libyan people shortly to address the nation concerning the assault of the crusaders against the people of Libya."

[1:10 a.m. Sunday ET, 7:10 a.m. in Libya] Fighter jets were seen flying over the Libyan city of Benghazi on Sunday morning. It was not immediately clear who the fighter jets belonged to.

China's foreign ministry expressed regret over the military strike on Libya and said it does not agree with use of force in international relations.

The Spanish armed forces will send four F-18 planes, a refueling plane, an F-100 frigate, a submarine and a maritime surveillance aircraft to Libya.

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez denounced the military intervention in Libya, and slammed the United States and the United Nations. "They (the U.S.) want to appropriate the oil in Libya; they don't care about anyone's life in that region," he said, according to Venezuelan state media. "When have they cared about the lives in those places if they keep on bombing Iran and Afghanistan?"

A defiant Gadhafi said Libya will fight back against undeserved "naked aggression." His military claimed nearly 50 people, including, women, children and clerics, were killed in Saturday evening's attacks.

American, French and British military forces, convinced that Gadhafi was not adhering to a United Nations-mandated cease-fire, hammered Libyan military positions with missiles and fighter jets in the first phase of an operation that will include enforcement of a no-fly zone.

French fighter jets deployed over Libya fired at a military vehicle Saturday, the first strike against Gadhafi's military forces, which earlier attacked the rebel stronghold of Benghazi.

Gadhafi, speaking early Sunday on Libyan state TV, said the U.N. charter provides for Libya's right to defend itself in a "war zone." Weapons depots will be opened, he said.

U.S. President Barack Obama authorized U.S. military force from Brazil on what happened to be the eighth anniversary of the start of the war in Iraq.

In the next few days, U.S. military officials expect to hand over control to a coalition commander. Canada and Italy also are part of the coalition.

soundoff (685 Responses)
  1. banasy

    Oh, there was no discussion then because the GOP is always *right*, right? 🙂

    March 20, 2011 at 5:04 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Andy16

    the innocent people in libya were killed, the very moment gaddafi refused to step down. He left us no choice. HE killed them, not us.

    March 20, 2011 at 5:05 pm | Report abuse |
  3. andrei

    CNN commenting system is **cking **tarded.
    CNN – plz add normal pagination and some way of finding comments!
    Also – multilevel reply system.

    March 20, 2011 at 5:05 pm | Report abuse |
  4. curto

    U.S. government has got a mind of its own doesn't it, well they probably call it an agenda.

    March 20, 2011 at 5:06 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Walter

    The raiding Vanir killed Conan's papa then Conan was crucified just like Jesus and he came back to life but unlike Jesus who was all talk Conan brought the pain. Conan > Baby Jesus.

    March 20, 2011 at 5:10 pm | Report abuse |
  6. azram

    How so, Lena? We're all waiting with bated breath, since we are all ignorant, uneducated people. Enlighten us.

    March 20, 2011 at 5:12 pm | Report abuse |
  7. azram

    Okay, Walter. Simmer down, now.

    March 20, 2011 at 5:17 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Kristof Clerckx

    Unbelievable! CNN live speaking of an European coalition fighting in Libya. About France, England, Spain and Italy. They even had a interview with the minister of Defense of Denmark because they are sending 4 jets to Libya. But nobody is mentioning the engagement of Belgium who is sending 6 F-16 fighters. CNN which claims the most accurate news bringer in the world. Guys I watch CNN every day but now I am chocked! I am Belgian and you are so poorly informed or are we not important enough! Kristof Clerckx.

    March 20, 2011 at 5:18 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Trolling for columbine

    @Lu: Don't vote Democrat. Don't vote Republican either. The country should demand a 3rd primary system so the 40% majority independent/swing voter does not have to choose a red or blue fecal sandwich every election. Just my opinion. Politicians pander to their dedicated 30% base with predetermined red meat and one liners then focus on the independents after they win their primary. Everyone falls for it every time. I disagree with the drone strategy in Afghanistan as it murders innocents and does not achieve the mission, but giving rebels in Libya a "nudge" to oust this guy is fine with me as long as it's not a land war with "collateral" damage. Killing a civilian by accident does not give anyone a mulligan in my opinion.

    March 20, 2011 at 5:20 pm | Report abuse |
  10. pvs53

    Russia's Foreign Ministry said air strikes carried out by coalition forces killed 48 civilians and injured 150. How can the Russians possible know this as fact. Are they siding with Libya?

    March 20, 2011 at 5:21 pm | Report abuse |
  11. FoxNews

    #Obama has avoided congress, he has joined the exclusive war criminal club now it seems. President Obama next time ask congress

    March 20, 2011 at 5:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • Death Panel Sarah

      uh.... it's not Fox News.... it's really Fox Views, they just ran the 'v' and 'I' together!

      March 20, 2011 at 5:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • BR

      And CNN really stands for Communist News Network.

      March 20, 2011 at 6:41 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Gary

    Obama works for the UN now ? Seems this president forgets he has a duty to take things to the people and ask them what they want him to do. Now he shows a true oligarchy in power. Him and his motly crew make it up as we go. As for this Lybia crusade. Are you nuts ? What were you thinking ? I was in the military when the jet over lockerby blew up and when it was announced Syrians made the bomb and lybians delivered it. So, we bombed Lybia. We left syria alone cause we lacked the balls do what was right. Obama you got bad intel on this and so did Europe you were fooled into helping lybia so to further make the muslim world hate you more. Oh yes, this has and will backfire on you mental midgets. All you did was make those who want an excuse to attack and use terrorism nore resolve to do so. All you did was make us again look like the new Nazi's on the block. Dude we elected you to lead, yes. But NOT without the consent of the people. Not the UN they are not Americans whose families, sons and daughters will bare the brunt of your mistakes. BTW Do something about your former buddy G.W. Bush Hording oil down in the Bahams in Freeport, or are you on his payroll too. You really have no clue how muslims think. Though you like to act like you do. Hey Bud, I was the first to tell Senators and Congress kids to tell the Arabs to tell their people in their language to support us not kill us. I was the one who blew the whistle on Yassar arrafat having a new testament in his shirt pocket and telling arabs in arabic to keep killing jews and christians. Tell you what. The Saudis have an air force, so does Egypt if they are worried let them get off their asses and get their pilots involved. Hope I made my point , Pointdexter Obama

    March 20, 2011 at 5:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • JoJoFox

      Grateful for your service in the military, sir. However, It is spelled L-i-b-y-a. I know this because I too was corrected by a friend who said, "If we're gonna intervene, we at least need to know how to spell it" Not to be confused with Liberia. Again, much thanks, Gary, for your military service.

      March 20, 2011 at 8:47 pm | Report abuse |
  13. golden_thunder

    This war against Libya is illegal and it is indeed a racist colonial attack aimed at destroying Libya's infrastructure then loot Libya's resources and oil. It is not aimed at protecting civilians. The rebels are NOT civilians. They are heavily armed from day one with tanks, anti-aircraft weapons, and tens of thousands of heavily armed and trained men. It is a civil war in which the rebels are supported with weapons and all other logistics from day one (a month ago). In my opinion, any rebels who rely on foreign invaders to gain power are definitely not freedom fighters nor are they patriots of their country. Qaddafi is a corrupt dictator, but it is none of our business to topple a dictator in any other country. Furthermore, how come we do not impose a no-fly zone against Israel which has been violating every international law since its foundation, and which continues to murder innocent Palestinian civilians every week! How come we do not attack Bahrain, Yemen, Syria, Saudi Arabia or Algeria who have dictators violating the human rights of their own citizens! It is a racist colonial crusades against another Arab Muslim country, to control it and loot its resources.

    March 20, 2011 at 5:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • Death Panel Sarah

      to golden_thunder..... take a 'golden shower' and cool off. Gadhafi is bombing the whole city, not just the rebels. He killed many others before the rebels armed themselves. They were just demonstrating.

      March 20, 2011 at 5:57 pm | Report abuse |
  14. BR

    We're still waiting on those creepy 'Code Pink' supporting anti-war progressives to call out Obama for his killing of innocent civilians, all in the name of oil!

    March 20, 2011 at 5:40 pm | Report abuse |
  15. ZT

    Is this how we in the "civilized" western world respect the neutrality of a nation? What business is it of the "International Community" to ask for the oust of a soverign nation? Does any country have the right to demand such a thing? What would have been the responses if the "International Community", China and Russia asked Gov Scott Walker to step down? Then offered the Unions some military help? Is that any different?

    March 20, 2011 at 5:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • Death Panel Sarah

      I forgot .... is there anybody DYING in Wisconsin???

      March 20, 2011 at 6:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • JoJoFox


      March 20, 2011 at 8:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • Peter

      Great idea sweetheart,
      Let the Chineese help to oust Gov. Scott in Florida. He vetoed the bullet train funding, and is killing the unions, demoting the teaches to clerks, insulting state employees earning minimal wages by asking wage cuts while promoting billioner's, and is attempting to eliminate the powers of the FL Supreme Court.
      Gov. Scott icould be happy running a show similar to a dictatorship we know exist in Libya.
      Voters be aware of your next mistake when you fill out the Ballot. !

      March 20, 2011 at 9:10 pm | Report abuse |
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