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. Puppeteer

    America! F yeah! Comin again to save the mutha fughin day yeah...

    March 20, 2011 at 8:33 pm | Report abuse |
  2. kojo addo

    don't we have more sensible Democrats? we are allowing a stooge like Obama drive the party over the cliff for 2012

    March 20, 2011 at 8:35 pm | Report abuse |
  3. kojo addo

    Obama is worse than Bush, he is being runed like a michine by the politicians and lobbyist

    March 20, 2011 at 8:39 pm | Report abuse |
  4. hkmlia

    Is this really an ethical dilemma...?

    The UN has clearly made an informed decision to prevent a delusional dictator from killing and reeking havoc across Tripoli ...hmmm, seems pretty clear what needs to happen.

    The UN should be swift in resolving this problem and handing power to a democratically elected government. Keep going!

    March 20, 2011 at 8:41 pm | Report abuse |
  5. JoJoFox

    So, anyone know?..... Where'd Gaddafi go? ( 'Where's Gaddafo?')

    March 20, 2011 at 8:51 pm | Report abuse |
  6. reallywithty

    This is not a war created by the US as everyone likes to believe (in case no one noticed congress hasnt voted to declare war, and they won't), this was voted on by the UN and even The Arab League, so the international government and a league of neighboring nations voted for this. For once the world is standing together and saying we need to stop civilian bloodshed by an oppressive leader.

    March 20, 2011 at 8:54 pm | Report abuse |
  7. unfounded

    Could it be that the Libyan people are being sidelined in self determination, and that the UK , France, Italy and the U.S. will determine the government they will have? Its clear what is happening in Libya is a civil war, the government has every right to squash the rebellion, and the citizenry have every right to rebel against an oppressive government. But really, what right do we have to intercede? When we face an avg. according to the FBI statistics of violent crime of 12,000 homicides a year, an average of 400,000 people check into homeless shelters every night and the national unemployment rate hovers at 9%, etc. etc.? Shouldn't we take care of our people first and foremost first? We certainly do not have any moral authority after countless of debacles of invading nations that posed no risked to us militarily, Iraq, Afghanistan, Vietnam... Yet we happened to accomplished over 6,000 service members KIA in Iraq and Afganistan and slained directly or indirectly 100,000s of civilians in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan. Our governments Foreign and Domestic policies are a detriment to the American people..

    March 20, 2011 at 9:07 pm | Report abuse |
  8. sdgirl4evr

    Despite how media is trying to spin this into, this us NOTHING to do with humanitarian efforts. When has it become humane to bomb a sovereign nation? This is a civil war and we should not be involved....remember Vietnam?....And no civilians have been hurt...I'm glad we finally developed humanitarian, smart missiles that only seek out evil people....And the missile to Gahdafi's compound was because it had military capabilities!?
    This is about toppling the Gahdafi regime, not protecting civilians. And the U.S. is absolutely executing this mission. 90% of the military raids have come from the U.S. General Ham (commander of AFRICOM) is working with the operational commander of the USS Mount Whitney. Together, they are calling the shots.
    People have a very short memory. We helped the “freedom fighters” in Afghanistan fight against the Soviets and it worked. Only problem was that the fighters turned out to be Bin Laden & the Taliban. They used the weapons we bought them to kill our soldiers and they are still doing it 9 years after we went into the country. They wanted the Russians out and then we go in after these same people who are involved in 9/11.

    Mark my words, this will be a long drawn out battle

    March 20, 2011 at 9:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • DWest

      There would be no USA military in Afganastan or Iraq if the Muslim extremist hadn't attacked and mass mudered USA citizens in New York and Washington. They left the USA no choice. They brought this on themselves and then complain about the foreign military. They are suffering for their own stupidity.

      March 20, 2011 at 10:05 pm | Report abuse |
  9. DWest

    The self righteous people opposed to this are fortunate enough to have been born in a free society that enjoys prosperity. If they bad been born in Libya how different their opinions about this would be. Also, I doubt that the people of Russia and China are opposed to this, just their government leaders who are of dictatorship mentality.

    March 20, 2011 at 9:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • sdgirl4evr

      I understand our involvement in Afghanistan and Iraq. I do not understand our involvement in Libya. it's a civil war. Fighting within a Nation should remain within the Nation. Their are numerous tribal factions within Libya, we have no idea what will happen when Gahdafi is out. For all we know Al Qaeda will attempt to take over Libya then we will be fighting three different wars at once. Enough already! The U.S. thinks they are liberating a nation to democracy, these people are not a republic. They still stone people, mutilate the genitalia of women, kill family members that have brought "disgrace on the family" ect..
      And why Libya? If this mission is about liberating people than why not Iran? Iran has been systematically killing and torturing its people since their bloody march for freedom began in June 2009. Why did one of the most dangerous threats to world security escape criticism, sanction and retaliation for the unmatched killing and torture of the millions who marched the streets for freedom against Islamic theocracy?
      This has nothing to do with liberating people or removing a regime that is a threat to us. this is a civil war and we should BUTT OUT.

      March 21, 2011 at 1:41 am | Report abuse |
  10. Scott Bingington

    It's funny how once the U.S. decides to get involved gas prices go up and not only are the allied countries involved but the what exactly are they doing for the rebels cause? I'm confused as to why they are even bombing these builds if they aren't "positive" Qaddafi is in them????

    March 20, 2011 at 10:31 pm | Report abuse |
  11. L64

    'Rhetoric' is also an overused word on the blogs, and rarely spelled correctly.

    March 20, 2011 at 10:36 pm | Report abuse |
  12. robroy

    apparently,it's alright for these armed camel jockeys{rebels} can nicely hide behind the civilian population and wait for the cavalry{u.n. airforce } to save the whats going to happen when these camel boys head back towards Tripoli and Gahdafi's boys are dug in for the fight,are they going haul the wife and kids along because RESOLUTION 1973 clearly states that the air cavalry is their to protect the CIVILIAN POPULATION. let the 2 sides go out in the middle of the desert,fight it out,last side standing gets to light a smoke and have a cold budwieser

    March 20, 2011 at 10:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • ED

      Wow. Find yourself a dictionary and look up the definition of 'inane."

      March 21, 2011 at 12:13 am | Report abuse |
    • Phoenix05

      Now the last time the US said that they will shortly hand over control was years after the Iraq war.

      March 21, 2011 at 12:28 am | Report abuse |
    • ellen durant

      Robroy is right. We Americans tend to ignore the fact that some conflicts like the one happening should be settled by the people of libya. How would the US feel if a foreign power was to dictate who the leader should be. Ghadaffi is considered the founding father of Libya and lets not ignore the positives he has done for his country. The so called rabels rebelled against Libya, so let the leader of Libya deal with them. Bush 2 killed more civilian in eight yrs than Ghaddaffi has in 40yrs.

      March 22, 2011 at 1:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • daws

      Um, the rebels ARE the civilians >.< And Ellen, the no-fly zone was originally called for by the Libyans themselves... a bit after...did we forget, they were calling for Gadhafi to get out themselves.

      March 24, 2011 at 3:18 am | Report abuse |
  13. Jazz7

    I say He needs to DIE now just like HITLER both will surely go to HELL

    March 20, 2011 at 10:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • ellen durant

      Only God has the right to condemn anyone to death.

      March 22, 2011 at 4:24 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Jazz7

    I say He needs to DIE now just like HITLER both will surely go to HE11

    March 20, 2011 at 10:50 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Kev

    Is the tyrant dead yet?

    March 20, 2011 at 10:53 pm | Report abuse |
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