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

[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. descarado

    Democrats have never been someone you want to share a foxhole with. When it gets dark, they can't wait for Mommy to call them inside. But this is ridiculous! Obama starts something and three days later he announces a drawdown of American participation. He has insured Gadhafi's survival and set a record for a Democratic retreat. How is CNN, Obama's Ministry of Propaganda and Obamaganda going to spin this one?

    March 22, 2011 at 4:13 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Conrad

    Where is Qaddafi anyways? If he's attacking, he isn't talking...

    March 22, 2011 at 4:18 pm | Report abuse |
  3. TampaMan

    The Pentagon spews lies these days like a heaving toilet. Actually I prefer my commode because at least the mess can be cleaned up. Not so with emmissions from general officers.

    Does anybody really believe that the only motives for Euro-American air attacks are humanitarian? Where was the humanitarian support during the recent Iranian riots? Where is the humanitarian support for the liberation of N. Korea?
    And I guess we've pretty much given up on the ethnic wars, plagues and famines in central and eastern Africa.

    Anybody notice how carefully timed the present 'response' is? The Egyptian government is in tatters and cannot respond. Algeria is twitching like a man that's been hit in the head with a baseball bat (courtesy of neutral French tear gas bombs and military 'advisors'). Civil unrest after-shocks have been felt in Iran. Bahrain is seething with discontent (how much trouble can a fifteen mile wide island cause anyway?). The kings of Jordan and Saudi Arabia are concerned that their own thrones will turn into toilets. The whole thing has been well timed, like a ballet of political confusion.

    Right wing pundits like to blame it all on fantasy actions of muslim organizations. Meanwhile Fox News has been caught in a lie or two about Libya. Have you noticed? On the other hand, there are a number of respected sources that suggest the whole thing was in the planning stage at the State Department and Pentagon for at least three years.

    Truth or lies? I dunno, but having three wars running at the same time stinks as bad as an upchucked toilet.

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

    don't the people of this country have a say anymore? Lol

    March 22, 2011 at 4:21 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Defender

    Sorry, but the only way to effectively deal with a sociopath bent on killing anyone and everyone in his way – even his own people – is to use lethal force. While you're talking to the sociopath about peace (as with Gadhafi), he's imagining 100 ways to kill you.

    March 22, 2011 at 4:33 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Mich

    We can't hinder people in the war for freedom.

    March 22, 2011 at 4:46 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Georgia Hull

    The world leaders are acting correctly. Removing this murderer is the correct action.

    March 22, 2011 at 4:51 pm | Report abuse |
  8. banasy

    God, I wish this despot would be overthrown, already! He has caused so much human misery, it's unbelievable! I wish he would just..disappear!

    March 22, 2011 at 4:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • bbarc

      Finally, brethren, farewell. Become complete. Be of good comfort, be of one mind, live in peace; and the GOD of love and peace will be with you. II Corinthians 13:11

      March 22, 2011 at 5:10 pm | Report abuse |
  9. GB

    To The Dave. Very nice article. You come across as peace loving, as I believe most of us are. Do you honestly believe that what is going on across the mid-east is a culture clash ? I believe it is people seeking freedom from those who would commit genocide before relinquishing power. Do you honestly believe the Libyan issue could be settled by talking ? There is a time for pushing peace and a time for standing up for ones rights and beliefs. There is no middle ground in the Libyan conflict. There is no room for compromise. Give up freedom or give up control of a country. Freedom is not likely to be denied. I guess Ghadaffi could be made king, like in England. But I bet he balks. Conflict, unfortunately, seems tobe inevitable, especially in this case. I guess all you can do is pick your battles wisely.

    March 22, 2011 at 4:57 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Rastrosinhuellas

    Why the UN hasn't taken any action against other dictators? For example: Fidel Castro Ruz or his brother Raul Castro? I mean Castro has been in power for more than 50 years, to be more exact 52, he has tortured, condemn and kill civilians ( iam Cuban, i know what im talking about) he has forced Cubans to leave the country on precarious condition like back in 1994 when thousand of Cubans left on a single rafts or homemade boats,there is no such a word as "freedom of speech" or just plain freedom everything is monitored by his regime, i mean why not intervene Cuba? i dont want planes flying over and bombing cities but why not force him to simply quit?

    March 22, 2011 at 5:02 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Kev

    Some things need to be assumed, 1. the American Congress should be on board with this action. 2. If they are not, they are not true Americans. 3. Libya is in a bad way, they need help and the US for the FIRST time is willing and pressing to help, BUT take a back seat. THIS IS what we need to do. I cannot believe that people are talking and investigating an "impeachable offense" on the part if the President of The UNITED STATES. What happened to the integrity of the office of the President? We are not "boots on the ground". Granted we are spread thin (the military) but these atrocities around the world need to stop.

    March 22, 2011 at 5:04 pm | Report abuse |
  12. bostongye

    Finally the world is doing something about this tyrant. No complaining about unilateral action this time!

    March 22, 2011 at 5:08 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Austin

    The US stands by and does nothing while the same thing happens in countless other countries. It is true that the issue of oil is present but what is even bigger is that Obama sees this as one of his last chances to really make an impact on the public's perception of him.

    The president's approval ratings have been tanking, and after the Republican's sweeping victory in these past elections he is almost out of options. The republicans are just going to "stay the course" and drive him out of office. Obama's only hope is to win the public over by preforming well when faced with unexpected problems (Libya, the tsunami ect...). This is the real reason that, as commander and chief, Obama seeks to win popularity by "defending freedom against tyranny"

    March 22, 2011 at 5:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • mustafa

      americans!!!! ur the most hated people outside europe.
      we africans are very much disappointed wiz obama. we had our peace in africa, gadaffi was killing REBELS against libyans. why support the civillians wiz guns. there ar no-longer civilians.
      shame upon u americans-real thieves stealing oil in a murderous way

      March 22, 2011 at 5:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • Uncle Sam

      That may be true Mustafa, but we are also the most loved country. People have to win a win a lottery to come here. Can that be said of your country? I was talking to an immigrant today who said he's happy to be here and that this is the best country in the world. I don't care what country you're from in Africa, I bet people don't say that. You would probably come here if you could.

      March 22, 2011 at 6:11 pm | Report abuse |

      You are partially correct. The reality is that people go to the USA because of the DOLLAR & nothing else. Immigrants who make money in the USA can buy TV, Refrigerators etc.. Something that they can not do in their country.
      Now, the USA citizens are insensitive to the USA kiling machine in other countries. Mind your business so you can travel
      freely around the World!!!

      March 22, 2011 at 6:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • Col. Bat Guano

      Latin is a dead language.

      March 22, 2011 at 9:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • Austin

      Ehh... we're not the most loved. The system and opportunity may be but the people (which is what he's talking about) are not. Trolling around hating on Muslims who have every right to build a place of worship anywhere they want under our own laws? We looked like pigs. As long as Americans who make ignorant comments against other races or religions remain the American people will not be seen in a good light

      March 23, 2011 at 12:41 am | Report abuse |
    • leeintulsa

      I just saw video of libyan ordinance exploding in misrata. Dude walking by had a cell phone, not a gun.

      March 22, 2011 at 6:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • Audrey

      Not true mustafa I`m not always a big fan of Americans but i`d much rather they move to Canada than the hoards of Somali`s ruining Toronto.I`d rather see the Americans help them free their country than have my country bring them here and try to unteach the violence you seem to have learned so well.By the way it is with not wiz!

      March 22, 2011 at 9:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • BobcatUSN

      As you can see my corrupt oppressing African, our First-Generation Born Kenyan-American President Obama is trying to help free the people from the same type of oppression you come from. We freely elect our leaders, while you are either part of the small minority of a European educated Kings and Military Dictators corrupt Intelligencia that oppresses the majority of Africans who have no freedom. Watch your back my Brotha....the people want to be heard, and they are screaming freedom, and will probably not think twice about slicing your head off to be in power, which deep down inside you and I know that's what and all you think of.

      March 23, 2011 at 2:24 am | Report abuse |
  14. Rastrosinhuellas

    All i know this is just the beginning of the END. Bombing Lybia? That wasn't a smart move at all. Gadhafii will gain power and will strike back even harder. All his allies will join him and we just gonna seat, relax and watch how the whole WORLD ENDS right in front of our eyes. The more i watch CNN the more i believe in Mayans. God be with us.

    March 22, 2011 at 5:11 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Kev

    To The Dave, I agree wholeheartedly but it really takes two-sided communication. does it not?

    March 22, 2011 at 5:11 pm | Report abuse |
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