Libya live blog: 'Libyans are laughing at these rockets,' Gadhafi says
Addressing a crowd of supporters Tuesday, Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi ridicules coalition forces attacking his country.
March 22nd, 2011
10:44 PM ET

Libya live blog: 'Libyans are laughing at these rockets,' Gadhafi says

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.

[11:37 p.m. Tuesday ET, 3:50 a.m. Wednesday in Libya] Loud explosions rocked the Libyan capitol of Tripoli early Wednesday. Hours before, Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi vowed to fight back against international forces seeking to impose a no-fly zone in his country.

"We will not give up," he said to a crowd of supporters in a speech broadcast on state television Tuesday. "They will not terrorize us. We will defeat them by any method."

[9:33 p.m. Tuesday ET, 3:33 a.m. Wednesday in Libya] We were unable to update the blog for the past few hours due to technical difficulties. Here's what we missed:

- As of Tuesday, the U.S. military has flown 212 sorties over Libya, while 124 were flown by other coalition forces. A total of 108 strikes have been carried out and 162 Tomahawk missiles have been fired, the U.S. military reported.

- Libya’s central bank holds billions of dollars worth of gold, and despite the no-fly zone and sanctions, this could be useful to Gadhafi as he tries to survive, an international commercial attorney says.

- The United States' costs related to the military intervention in Libya already are in the hundreds of millions of dollars, and this has sparked a debate over funding, CNNMoney reports.

To date, the United States has spent some $225 million firing Tomahawk missiles, according to CNN estimates based on U.S. Navy figures. The cost could reach up to $800 million to fully establish the no-fly zone and another $100 million a week to maintain it going forward, said Zack Cooper, a senior analyst for the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments.

- More on U.S. President Barack Obama's comments in El Salvador: He said that once leadership of the military mission in Libya shifts from the United States to an international coalition, "it is not going to be our planes maintaining the no-fly zone" and "it is not going to be our ships that are necessarily involved in enforcing the arms embargo."

Obama said the international support for the military mission, with NATO allies and Arab nations taking part, meant that "the United States is not going to be bearing all the costs."

- Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi has told a crowd of supporters that he will emerge victorious in his battle with international forces.

"We will not give up," he said, many of them waving green flags in a speech broadcast on state television. "They will not terrorize us. We are making fun of their rockets. The Libyans are laughing at these rockets. We will defeat them by any method."

Gadhafi called the coalition's efforts "blatant aggression by a group of fascists" and predicted the coalition's members "will be sent to history's dustbin."

He said Libyans "are leading the international war against imperialism, against despots and I tell you, I do not scare."

- U.S. President Barack Obama, speaking during a trip in El Salvador, said the Libyan people will remain under threat as long as Moammar Gadhafi remains in power, unless Gadhafi "changes his approach."

Obama said that military mission has already saved lives in the rebel controlled city of Benghazi by preventing Gadhafi from unleashing his military on people there, Obama said. In the end, he said, the American people "are going to be satisfied that lives were saved" by the U.S. military action.

Obama said he had "no doubt" that the United States will be able to shift control of the Libyan military mission to an international coalition, and that the timetable for such a transition continued to be in coming days, rather than weeks. Read about the squabbling among NATO countries over who, exactly, will take control of the mission.

- Four children in the same family were among 13 civilians killed Tuesday during clashes between Gadhafi forces and revels in Misrarta, a city under siege two hours east of Tripoli, said Dr. Khaled Mansouri of Misrata Central Hospital.

Mansouri told CNN about 30 other people were injured in Misrata on Tuesday. The death toll from the clashes in the city stands at 90 over the last five days.

- The United States expects additional Arab support for the coalition enforcing the no-fly zone over Libya, a senior administration official told reporters, according to CNN’s Elise Labott. So far, Qatar is the only Arab country that has contributed planes to the mission.

The official, who could not be named because of the sensitivity of the diplomacy, said several Arab states are in the process of finalizing their plans, adding the Obama administration was "confident we will have further concrete contributions of different kinds" for enforcement of the resolution in the next two to three days.

- More information regarding a U.S. Air Force jet that crashed in Libya late Monday night: It went down after experiencing an equipment malfunction, the U.S. military said. Both crew members ejected safely and are now out of Libya and in American hands, the U.S. military said.

A pilot and weapons officer aboard the F-15E Strike Eagle had flown from Aviano Air Base in Italy to Libya when the fighter experienced problems, the U.S. military command for Africa said in a statement. Both pilots ejected and landed safely in Libya.

Here's a PDF of the military’s timeline of the incident and rescues.

- More on comments from Adm. Samuel Locklear III, commander of U.S. Naval Forces Europe and Africa: He said multinational airstrikes would continue until Moammar Gadhafi stops attacking his people. So far, he said, Gadhafi is violating the Security Council resolution by continuing to using force.

[3:50 p.m. Tuesday ET, 9:50 p.m. Tuesday in Libya] Tension is mounting between allies about who should command the mission to protect civilians and enforce a no-fly zone in Libya, CNN's Paula Newton reports.

After heated exchanges between NATO ambassadors in Brussels, the alliance announced Tuesday an operation to enforce an arms embargo against Libya, but it went no further on deciding if or when NATO would take command of the military mission already under way, in which several allies are participating.

The United States has expressed its desire to take a back seat in the operation and hand over any command role to European allies. Italy is demanding that NATO take a lead role in the military and political decision-making for the mission; France is reluctant to submit to NATO command.

[12:31 p.m. Tuesday ET, 6:31 p.m. Tuesday in Libya] The power of Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi's air force has been diminished to the point where it will "not have any negative impact" on coalition members conducting airstrikes, Adm. Samuel Locklear III, commander of U.S. Naval Forces Europe and Africa, said Tuesday.

[12:24 p.m. Tuesday ET, 6:24 p.m. Tuesday in Libya] Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi's forces are attacking civilians in the city of Misrata, Adm. Samuel Locklear III, commander of U.S. Naval Forces Europe and Africa, told reporters Tuesday. "We will continue to make him comply" with the United Nations Security Council resolution, Locklear said.

[12:01 p.m. Tuesday ET, 6:01 p.m. Tuesday in Libya] A senior defense official says both the pilot and weapons officer from an Air Force F1-5 that crashed in Libya are now safely out of the country.

[10:44 a.m. Tuesday ET, 4:44 p.m. Tuesday in Libya] The port in the Libyan capital of Tripoli appears to have been hit by a missile strike overnight, CNN's Nic Robertson reports. He says he can see the smoldering remains of several large military rocket launcher systems. Witnesses told CNN they saw missiles strike in the port area overnight.

[10:30 a.m. Tuesday ET, 4:30 p.m. Tuesday in Libya] NATO on Tuesday said it will begin to enforce an arms embargo against Libya.

NATO ships and aircraft "will conduct operations to monitor, report and, if needed, interdict vessels suspected of carrying illegal arms or mercenaries," according to a NATO statement.

The alliance will also help enforce the no-fly zone over Libya, the statement from NATO's secretary-general said.

[9:56 a.m. Tuesday ET, 3:56 p.m. Tuesday in Libya] The United Nations World Food Program stepped up food supplies for hungry people crossing Libya's borders, the agency said Tuesday. It has been airlifting and pre-positioning portable warehouses and office equipment as  part of regional contingency plans. The U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees said humanitarian assistance under current circumstances is challenging. There are reported shortages of medical supplies and basic commodities in the eastern part of the country and prices have spiked dramatically. The refugee agency said the bloodshed has displaced thousands of Libyans from their homes.

[9:35 a.m. Tuesday ET, 3:35 p.m. Tuesday in Libya] The Spanish parliament on Tuesday approved Spanish military participation in the international coalition operating in Libya. The vote was 336 in favor to 3 opposed, with one abstention, the speaker of the parliament announced after the vote, which was telecast live in Spain.

The parliamentary approval was required under Spanish law, but Spain has already sent to a base in southern Italy four F-18 fighters and a Boeing 707 refueling plane, and two of the fighters and the refueling plane were in action on Monday, before the vote, the Spanish defense minister
said.

[9:22 a.m. Tuesday ET,3:22 p.m. Tuesday in Libya] Two journalists with Agence France-Presse were arrested Saturday in Libya, the news agency said. Dave Clark, a British journalist, and Roberto Schmidt, a German photographer, were arrested in the Ajdabiya region, said AFP editor in chief for France, Jean Luc Bardet.

Their driver said they were arrested by the Libyan military, Bardet said. AFP has not had contact with the two since Friday, Bardet said.

[8:43 a.m. Tuesday ET, 2:43 p.m. Tuesday in Libya] The United Arab Emirates had been prepared to send two aircraft squadrons to participate in the international effort to enforce a no-fly zone over Libya, said Maj. Gen. (Staff) Pilot Khaled Abdullah Al-Buainnain - the former commander of the Emirates' air force and air defense.  However, he said, those plans have changed due to criticism by the United States and the European Union of the Gulf Cooperation Council's deployment of troops to help the monarchy stabilize Bahrain. The UAE has chosen not to take a military role in Libya until Washington and the European Union clarify their position on the use of troops in Bahrain, but it will contribute to the humanitarian effort in Libya, Al-Buainnain said.

[7:42 a.m. Tuesday ET, 1:42 p.m. Tuesday in Libya] Both crew members from a U.S. fighter jet that crashed in Libya "are safe," the U.S. military said in a statement Tuesday. A U.S. military plane picked up the pilot, a senior defense official said. Libyan rebels recovered the second crew member and "took good care of him" until coalition forces "could come get him," the official said. Both crew members are out of Libya, the official said.

[7:29 a.m. Tuesday ET, 1:29 p.m. Tuesday in Libya] Both crew members from a U.S. F-15 fighter jet that crashed in Libya "are safe," the U.S. military said in a statement Tuesday.

[6:50 a.m. Tuesday ET, 12:50 p.m. Tuesday in Libya] A U.S. Air Force F-15 jet has crashed in Libya, Kenneth Fidler, a spokesman for U.S. Africa Command, said Tuesday. Two pilots ejected from the plane. One has been recovered, and the second is still being sought. The crash was "not due to enemy or hostile actions," Fidler said. The plane was flying from Europe, he said.

[6:32 a.m. Tuesday ET, 12:32 p.m. Tuesday in Libya] One crewman has been recovered and another is in the process of being recovered after a U.S. Air Force F-15 crashes in rebel-controlled area of Libya, the U.S. military says, according to Reuters.

[6:16 a.m. Tuesday ET, 12:16 p.m. Tuesday in Libya] A U.S. Air Force F-15 Eagle fighter has crashed, apparently because of mechanical failure, in a rebel-controlled area of Libya, according to Arab media reports. The pilot has been rescued, according to the reports.

[5:48 a.m. Tuesday ET, 11:13 a.m. Tuesday in Libya] The United Arab Emirates said at least two aircraft squadrons are ready to be deployed within 48 hours to support the international mission in Libya, a military leader said.

[3: 13 a.m. Tuesday ET, 9:13 a.m. Tuesday in Libya] An international mission to weaken the force of Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi has stopped the ruler's momentum, a U.S. official said. But criticism and questions about the operation persist, with no clear answer on who will take over command of the military operation and what the end game will be.

[1: 57 a.m. Tuesday ET, 7:57 a.m. Tuesday in Libya] A CNN correspondent on Monday angrily rejected a report by the Fox network that he and other journalists were used as human shields by Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi to prevent a missile attack on his compound.

The Fox story, labeled "exclusive" and posted on the Fox website Monday, said the presence of news crews from CNN, Reuters and other organizations forced a British aircraft to call off firing seven Storm Shadow missiles at the area that already had been hit.

"Officials from Libya's Ministry of Information brought those journalists to the area to show them damage from the initial attack and to effectively use them as human shields," said the Fox report.

According to the Fox story, the curtailed strike "led to a great deal of consternation by coalition commanders."

Nic Robertson, a veteran CNN correspondent who was part of the CNN crew cited in the Fox story, called the rival network's report "outrageous and hypocritical."

[12: 17 a.m. Tuesday ET, 6:17 a.m. Tuesday in Libya]
Satellite images of a Libyan city, provided to CNN by an intelligence source, appear to show evidence that pro-Gadhafi forces razed a mosque that recently served as a rebel command center.

The two images of an area of Zawiya, west of Tripoli, were taken Feb. 20 and March 20, according to the source, who provided them on condition of anonymity.

[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.

soundoff (258 Responses)
  1. NaytDawg

    It's one thing to be a dictator, but to commit mass murder against civilians. Kudos to the brave Libyan people who took a stand and the international community to take (finally) action.

    March 22, 2011 at 10:34 am | Report abuse |
  2. Sue

    Heard on nor this am that kdhafi has billions in gold and economic sanctions mean nothing. Also,why not get together as nations and pledge not to buy lybian oil? They do not have all the world supply

    March 22, 2011 at 10:42 am | Report abuse |
    • Donald McDaniel

      In fact, Libya only supplies 1% of the world's oil, the majority of which goes to EUROPE, ASIA, and Russian Federation.
      VERY LITTLE comes to the U.S.

      So accusing the U.S., and our President, Mr. Obama of being in it go grab Libya's oil is ridiculous and uninformed.

      Donald

      March 22, 2011 at 2:09 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Ron White

    This action in Lybia is NOT about oil! Lybia only produces about 2% of the worlds oil, and the majority of that oil
    goes to European countries. The U.S. is helping to prevent the killing of innocent people. If OUR families were
    being slaughtered by a ruthless dictator, I wonder if we would be adding up the cost of protecting us? These
    men, women, and children have reached out to the UN for help. Would we do any less for any one of our allies?

    March 22, 2011 at 10:46 am | Report abuse |
    • bbarc

      Who are we aligned w/ today? $$$

      March 22, 2011 at 10:53 am | Report abuse |
    • Sue

      Yes,this is a humanitarian crisis. If so, why aren,t the European countries that purchase this oil going to someone else?

      March 22, 2011 at 12:21 pm | Report abuse |
  4. byron

    lets then say the US has its heart in the right place what happens if gadafi gets to Benghazi and the rebellion is crushed? what will they do then. It sounds more like Iraq over again this tym the lybian civilians are the reason.Cant we just see the U S are toppling an unfriendly regime with the guise of protecting people ,....am an African why hasn`t the UN stepped in in the Ivory Coast to prevent the murders ongoing.

    March 22, 2011 at 10:54 am | Report abuse |
    • bbarc

      Hi Bryon, there is no $$ to be made. Sorry to say. God bless your civilians!

      March 22, 2011 at 11:02 am | Report abuse |
  5. Patrizia

    If we have not set foot in Lybia, who helped the two pilots who crashed out of Lybia????

    March 22, 2011 at 11:05 am | Report abuse |
    • bbarc

      Good question! What's going on Egypt is a distraction.

      March 22, 2011 at 11:13 am | Report abuse |
    • Donald McDaniel

      Come on, Patrizia, even YOU would rescue your children if they were lost in a foreign land.

      Please, learn the SPIRIT of the English language, not just the LETTER.
      The facts are, the U.N. Resolution 1973 provides for ALL NECESSARY MEANS to protect the (innocent) civilians of Libya, up to and including the establishment of a NO-FLY Zone, but WITHOUT sending in ground forces to OCCUPY the country.

      If YOU want to believe that rescuing a pilot after a mechanical failure of his aircraft is OCCUPATION of a country, it's your business.

      Allowing your unlearned statement to be unanswered would be a shame.

      Donald

      March 22, 2011 at 2:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • JoJoFox

      Read the CNN blog please....the crew of 2 was found and guarded by the rebels until picked up by a US Helicopter....th
      NO troops on the ground...this was an rescue assist. In, out, done!~ No clandestine hidden troops here.

      March 22, 2011 at 2:55 pm | Report abuse |
  6. ssmaley

    Kucinich and the rest of Congress need to stop trash talking and back stabbing the Leader of the free world while he is out of the country. I can say as a retired soldier that this talk of impeachment will only lower the moral of military who are putting their lives on the line for their Commander In Chief. We all have to rememberthat as Commander In Chief the presiedent DOES have the right to mobilize our military at a moments notice to either protect our nation and /or our nations allies. I praise Obama for waiting for the Arab League and the United Nations ruling before joining the Coalition forces, and especially for not being the 1st into Lybia...

    March 22, 2011 at 11:53 am | Report abuse |
    • Sue

      I agree somewhat. If he is the leader, why is he smoozing in south America for photo ops rather tha being in the white house where his authority is at least perceived to be greater?

      March 22, 2011 at 12:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • Cal Al

      @ Sue and the rest who complain about where Obama is and repeatedly claim you're confused about what is going on in the middle east. This trip was planned WELL BEFORE any of this happened. Why must you make yourselves look so "out of touch". It's embarrassing. Try catching up on events before you fill every blog site with tripe like this.

      March 22, 2011 at 1:22 pm | Report abuse |
  7. CALI CAL

    SO WHAT IS CONGRESSIONAL APPROVAL? THE WHITE MAN'S APPROVAL! Look, all those old, white, Repubs and the few Dems, had better be happy that MEN SUCH AS MYSELF HAVE ALLOWED THEM TO STAY IN OFFICE, THUS CONTINUING TO SCREW UP THIS COUNTRY AND THE WORLD! CONSERVATIVE WHITES ARE REALLY ASKING TO BE GIVING THE TREATMENT THEY HAVE BESTOWED UPON SO MANY MINORITIES. AND I'M READY TO GIVE IT TO 'EM, TOO! I can't wait until they take back the country that they've used up all the resources.

    March 22, 2011 at 12:13 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Robert

    @ dee

    clearly you don't understand how trolling works

    March 22, 2011 at 12:30 pm | Report abuse |
  9. kt

    We are at war AGAIN! This will further cripple our battled economy and delay our messy recovery at home, as Libya did not and does not post any threats to us. I disagree with this President on his Libya war policy, and I felt he was being driven by Frances, the other people outside the United States. I voted for him last time, and I'm sure I'll NOT vote for him in next election.

    March 22, 2011 at 12:46 pm | Report abuse |
  10. teamroper

    Arizona is going to the sweet sixteen!!!! Go 'Cats!

    March 22, 2011 at 12:55 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Cal Al

    For decades we have been talking about the "children of the future" changing the world for the better. It appears as though they are now mature enough to know things cannot continue as they are. Every middle eastern country is different and it's tiring to hear them compared to each other. What they have in common is younger generations trying to do what the world has been telling them to do for years. We can't reasonably expect every transition to be bloodless. I am ashamed at members of congress screaming about impeachment! I have been watching CNN since the earthquake and it is sad to think that our lawmakers haven't been doing the same. Those who are paying attention know exactly what's going on. Congress sounds like a bunch of spoiled kids who have been told that they don't get to ride shotgun this time. They need to listen to the people just as much (if not more) as the leaders of the middle east need to listen to their people. The sooner the (old) governments of the world, including the USA, learn to stop telling the (young) citizens how to think and feel, the sooner we can get on with the business of peace. There will be no battles over oil when we deal with the middle east as free people who also want peace.

    March 22, 2011 at 12:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • Sue

      I don,t think anyone is confused about what is going on. Tell us what is being accomplished in south America that is more important? Come on cal al get your priorities straight.

      March 22, 2011 at 2:34 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Joseph

    This for sure an intellectual approach by Mr. president and his team, way different from the Bush-Chaney era!

    March 22, 2011 at 12:57 pm | Report abuse |
  13. EGBUNIWE UTCHI

    GHADAFFI IS LOVING HIS PEOPLE TO KILL. THAT IS NOT A LEADER. LET THE PEOPLE DECIDE NOW WHO THEY WANT. HOW COME A MAN HAS SPENT 42 YEARS AND STILL WANTS MORE. ENOUGH OF RULE BY FORCE WELCOME MAJORITY RULE.

    March 22, 2011 at 1:00 pm | Report abuse |
  14. That Guy

    Did you know when an aircraft crashes that was carrying live weapons, most of the weapons are still live and the area is considered very dangerous, as in "You may die because you stepped on the wrong thing while standing on wreckage" kind of dangerous. Who ever had these people pose for this shot should be arrested for attempting to harm civilians just so they can get the "shot".

    March 22, 2011 at 1:01 pm | Report abuse |
  15. charles bowen

    Pamm you might want to consider some meds for that persistant aggressive streak you got going on there. Charles Bowen Solomon Stone

    March 22, 2011 at 1:05 pm | Report abuse |
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