Libya live blog: Gadhafi troops attack Misrata hospital
Libyan rebels deploy near the city of Ajdabiya to try to attack government forces that have encircled the town.
March 23rd, 2011
10:10 PM ET

Libya live blog: Gadhafi troops attack Misrata hospital

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.

[10:10 p.m. Wednesday ET, 4:10 a.m. Thursday in Libya] The coalition air effort to halt the Libyan government's attacks on civilians continued into Thursday for a sixth day, with an airstrike in the Tripoli suburb of Tajura, a government official said.

[9:20 p.m. Wednesday ET, 3:20 a.m. Thursday in Libya] After enduring five days of air strikes by coalition forces, Libyan government troops retain the upper hand. Government forces' move on Benghazi has been reversed, but attacks on Misrata and Ajdabiya continue. One witness said personnel in the main hospital were "paralyzed with fear."

Meanwhile, the Libyan government reported that military and civilian locations in Tripoli neighborhoods were struck. A U.S. official calls that assertion "unlikely" and says coalition forces have been using "all necessary measures" to protect civilians.

[6:02 p.m. Wednesday ET, 12:02 a.m. Thursday in Libya] Members of Moammar Gadhafi's inner circle are contacting the United States and Arab states, but have been unclear about their intentions, senior U.S. officials said.

However, the officials said that none of Gadhafi's inner circle have indicated Gadhafi was ready to leave, nor have any of them suggested they are ready to abandon Gadhafi, CNN's Elise Labott reported.

They are indeed reaching out, but it's not clear to what end," one senior official said. "It's not clear what's the purpose of all these calls."

[5:48 p.m. Wednesday ET, 11:48 p.m. in Libya] House Speaker John Boehner has written a letter to President Barack Obama complaining of "limited, sometimes contradictory" information so far on the U.S.-led military mission in Libya and asked for the president to provide "a clear and robust assessment."

Boehner, R-Ohio, wrote that he and other House members were troubled that the president committed U.S. military resources to war "without clearly defining for the American people, the Congress and our troops what the mission in Libya is and what America's role is in achieving that mission," CNN's Deirdre Walsh reports.

[5:30 p.m. Wednesday ET, 11:30 p.m. in Libya] Tanks belonging to Gadhafi's forces shelled the main hospital of rebel-held Misrata this afternoon, a witness told CNN.

The push began at 8 p.m. (2 p.m. ET), when "heavy tanks for Gadhafi troops start attacking the hospital - the bombs falling here 20 meters (66 feet) around us," said one person inside the hospital. He said two deaths had occurred "around the hospital."

At one point, shelling occurred without respite for 40 minutes, he said. "Now, fortunately, no more shelling, but the situation is so serious that all the teams here - the doctors, the patients - are paralyzed, scared."

He called for international intervention to protect the civilians inside the institution. "Nobody can work here," he said. All the doctors here are completely paralyzed." Ambulances were not able to leave the hospital, which had lost its electricity and was running on generator power, he said.

[5:05 p.m. Wednesday ET, 11:05 p.m. in Libya] An update on which Arab nations are playing some role in the coalition operation: Jordanian government spokesman Taher Edwan says that Jordan's role will be limited to a humanitarian one. "Jordan did not and will not have any military participation in Libya, neither in planes or on the ground at all in Libya," he said.

British Prime Minister David Cameron said Wednesday that Kuwait and Jordan have agreed to provide logistical support to the Libyan effort.

Qatar has already contributed planes to mission.

The United Arab Emirates said Tuesday it will participate, but only in providing humanitarian assistance. Toward that end, the country has sent a ship and two planes with basic relief supplies, the country's news agency said.

[4:53 p.m. Wednesday ET, 10:53 p.m. in Libya] Members of the Obama administration, while briefing a bipartisan group of congressional aides Tuesday on the military action in Libya, stressed that the U.S. is "not at war" with Libya, according to an official who was there.

The official said there was "deep skepticism from both sides of the aisle, both sides of the capitol" during the session. The official said that concerns about the mission were expressed and that while some spoke of support for "what the president is doing," they were seeking guidance on how to answer their constituents when they ask "what's next," according to CNN's Dan Lothian.

According to the official, who spoke to CNN but did not want to be quoted on the record, the panel could not provide a clear answer and instead said they're focused on implementing the U.N. Security Council resolution.

Critics on Capitol Hill are angry over what they consider inadequate administration consultation with Congress before the start of the military mission over the weekend. They also

[4:30 p.m. Wednesday ET, 10:30 p.m. in Libya] CNN's Arwa Damon talks to the Libyan rebels who came to the aid of one of the two American servicemembers who ejected from a U.S. Air Force F-15 that crashed near Benghazi in eastern Libya after a malfunction.

Rebels recovered the crew member, a weapons officer, and treated him with "respect and dignity" until coalition forces reached him, U.S. Navy Adm. Samuel Locklear III said Tuesday. U.S. rescue teams picked up the other crew member, the pilot, who had landed in a different spot.

[3:06 p.m. Wednesday ET, 9:06 p.m. in Libya] More on U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's latest comments to reporters: She said it is "clear that Gadhafi has lost confidence of Libyan people."

That's the main reason "why he should leave power," she said Wednesday afternoon. He can't govern or "meet the legitimate aspirations of his own people."

Clinton indicated that international military action may be putting pressure on Gadhafi to step aside, but stressed that the goal of the military campaign remains purely humanitarian - to protect civilians and enforce the no-fly zone.

It is up to Gadhafi and his advisers "to determine what their next steps are," Clinton said. But we would "encourage them to make the right decision" and "prepare for a transition that does not include Col. Gadhafi."

[2:52 p.m. Wednesday ET, 8:52 p.m. in Libya] U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said that the United States and its global partners are making progress in Libya. Clinton cited the retreat of Gadhafi's troops from the eastern Libyan city and rebel stronghold of Benghazi, along with what she characterized as the successful establishment of conditions necessary for a no-fly zone.

"Many, many Libyans are safer today because the international community took action," Clinton said.

The U.S. government will continue to support the military mission as command and control shifts to NATO, she said.

[2:04 p.m. Wednesday ET, 8:04 p.m. in Libya] A new Gallup poll said 47% of Americans approve of military action against Libya while 37% disapprove. A CNN/Opinion Research poll released Monday, however, suggested a larger majority of Americans - seven in 10 - favored establishing a no-fly zone in Libya enforced by the United States and other nations.

[1:59 p.m. Wednesday ET, 7:59 p.m. in Libya] Britain will host an international meeting Tuesday to assess progress and needs in the Libya campaign, British Foreign Secretary William Hague said.

[1:53 p.m. Wednesday ET, 7:53 p.m. in Libya] Parts of the eastern Libyan city of Ajdabiya fell to opposition forces even though Gadhafi's men, who have been pounding the area with artillery and heavy tank bombardments, retained control of the northern and western gates, opposition fighters and witnesses told CNN.

A hospital staffer and opposition fighters said that nine people were killed Wednesday in fighting near the northern gate. Coalition airstrikes targeted military sites in Ajdabiya Tuesday night into Wednesday, a U.S. military official said.

[12:41 p.m. Wednesday ET, 6:41 p.m. in Libya] In the last 24 hours, the international coalition has flown 175 sorties over Libya - 113 of them by U.S. planes, U.S. Rear Adm. Gerard Hueber said. He said the coalition has no indication that Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi was complying with a United Nations mandate to stop attacks against civilians. Coalition forces are now focusing on applying pressure on Gadhafi's ground forces that are attacking civilians, Hueber said. That includes targeting Libya's mechanized forces and artillery and interdicting supply lines for "beans and bullets," he said.

The no-fly zone now spans Libya from east to west along its coastline, Hueber added.

[10:41 a.m. Wednesday ET, 4:41 p.m. in Libya] France's foreign minister said NATO will not take political leadership of the international coalition's mission in Libya, but will play a role in planning and operations to enforce the United Nations-backed no-fly zone. The minister, Alain Juppe, said a commission composed of foreign ministers from the participating coalition states will make the political decisions.

[10:37 a.m. Wednesday ET, 4:37 p.m. in Libya] Despite the freezing of its assets under a U.N. resolution, Libya could use its stockpile of gold to keep its government going, the BBC and CNN have reported. Libya's central bank is said to hold about $6 billion worth of gold.

[10:02 a.m. Wednesday ET, 4:02 p.m. in Libya] Some signs of normalcy sprouted in the besieged western Libyan town of Misrata after a night of coalition airstrikes that witnesses said targeted encampments of forces loyal to Moammar Gadhafi. "It is relatively quiet today - this is the first time we feel that way in weeks," said Mohammed, an opposition spokesman in the city who would only give his first name. "We want to express our gratitude to the international community since there were airstrikes this morning."

[9:18 a.m. Wednesday ET, 3:18 p.m. in Libya] U.S. aircraft dropped a precision-guided munition on the F-15E that crashed Tuesday to fully destroy it, a U.S. military official said.

[7:31 a.m. Wednesday ET, 1:31 p.m. in Libya] Three journalists seized in Libya over the weekend have been released, Agence France-Presse said. AFP reporters Dave Clark and Roberto Schmidt and Getty Images photographer Joe Raedle were arrested near the eastern town of Ajdabiya on Saturday. The three were released in Tripoli.

[12:37 a.m. Wednesday ET, 6:37 a.m. Wednesday in Libya] Several loud explosions and heavy anti-aircraft gunfire rang out in the western part of the Libyan capital at dawn Wednesday.

The source of the blasts and gunfire in Tripoli were unclear, but there is a large military base in the area.

Hours earlier, Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi had 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."

- 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.

soundoff (423 Responses)
  1. Wayne NY

    We have homeless, jobless, hungry GOOD PEOPLE in this country & our President is shooting off 1.25 Million dollar cruise missiles at old , useless Soviet hardware like they were bottle rockets. First day of UN Security Counsel Resolution 1973 , " US & British Warships" as CNN stated numerous times fired 124 Tomahawk Cruise Missiles @ Libyan military targets. The Brits fired a whole TWO from a sub. We fired the other 122. Coalition ? In our other memorable coalition actions, American troops have sustained over 90% of the casualties. Brave men & women all. What they are risking their lives for this time around is beyond me.

    March 23, 2011 at 8:18 pm | Report abuse |
  2. ya

    Aren't statistics usually 99% fabricated bull@#$$

    March 23, 2011 at 8:19 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Aaron

    Why are people crying that we're taking down a very evil man? Not only does he target European civillians with terrorists, he sent people to attack the U.S. in Iraq, Afghanistan, AND HE BOMBED HIS OWN PEOPLE. He is nuts man. End of discussion.

    March 23, 2011 at 8:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • Namla

      because interferring in the internal affairs of a sovereign nation violates international law. I'm sure there are people that hate Barak Obama and would like to see regime change here, too. That does not give them the right to attack the United States (oh, that's right, that's what Al Qaeda did). Where is our moral directive if we are no better than Al Qaeda? A bunch of bullies terrorizing smaller, less powerful countries in the name of freedom?

      March 23, 2011 at 8:46 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Afi Phoebe

    American are shouting to streamaline gov't, cut gov't discretionary spending. We all know of the triple digit deficit we're in. Well as far as I'm concerned tough decisions are not easy but sometime have to be made. We did not start the uprising in Lybia and we should not be the ones to finish the trouble that nation's people started, regardless of whether we are pro-democracy or not. The whole world points fingers at the US gov't whenever there's big trouble and expect the US to Always take a lead. The US is going to have to bow gracefully and let others pick up the helm. Frankly, I'm tired of my tax dollars shot out of the barrel of guns and blood and for what. I can't even get an increase in my gov't guaranteed social security but the gov't has no problem in approving my overtaxed dollars to fund militia as has been wasted over the past 7 years, and I fail to see the major gains from such 'discretionary spending'. One thing's for sure if we don't stop looking over the ocean so much and begin to look over our shoulder on our own soil at the alarming growth of HATE groups in the US we'll have the same problem here one day as in Lybia.... Denying our own to spend so much on others needs to be examined...we're always deployed via distractions abroad and can't even see the fertilizer seeding growth here....shameful. The US needs to get off its pedestal where it has reigned in every way for so longfor so mmany of other problems... its almost like a regime...We simply can't be everything to everybody all the time...other nations do exist and need to stop holding the coattails of the USA and we need to realize its doing right by our own people which we have ignored for too long these past few years. We know the pattern of our military it never winds up as originally planned and there's carnage as a result of our interventions, just look at all our 'interventions' over the past 60years blood spilled needlessly where ever we went with 'good intentions'.

    March 23, 2011 at 8:28 pm | Report abuse |
  5. conoclast

    If your little world is so upside-down maybe you should be building a bunker, hmm? Yes, one-world government is coming - and none too soon! It's the species' only chance in the long-run, you know. But be a good boy and build your bunker anyway if it makes you feel secure; construction guys need the work.

    March 23, 2011 at 8:33 pm | Report abuse |
  6. anonymous

    CNN, always lying to cover up for the government. According to businessinsider.com, 66- 75 percent of Americans say they would rather not see the US involved in Libya. Take those numbers and shove them up your @$$ CNN!

    March 23, 2011 at 8:53 pm | Report abuse |
  7. nomansland

    Like the America was and the America that will ever be always eyeing everyone's business like a hawk dreaming that we are the one who set the law for the rest of the world to follow. We need a lesson of our own one of these days.

    March 23, 2011 at 9:01 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Rob

    What is the "vital" National interest? There are tons and tons of ruthless dictators out there. Why is this different? I don't need to hear... "well, Bush did it." That is no excuse. I would argue we made the same mistake in Iraq, but at least Congress was behind that action (albeit with the same fauly assumptions the rest of us had). I see no compelling reason why we are doing anything with Libya. Someone help me out here.

    I am an Independent. I don't want or need to hear the left/right hate speech. C'mon people... think.

    March 23, 2011 at 9:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • Over It

      You are right. You should be troubled. We all should be troubled. The "coalition of the willing" shouldn't be meddling in the internal affairs of another country.
      The second the rebels picked up weapons, this became a civil war. They choose to fight in cities/towns, and hence generate civilian casualties.
      Finally, why the double standards here? What about the peaceful protects in Bahrain being brutally stamped out by the regime there? Why no international community (leaders) outcry for them? Oh, that's right. Uncle Sam has a fleet based there...

      March 23, 2011 at 10:38 pm | Report abuse |
  9. TriXen

    We may not be at war with Libya, but we need to be.

    March 23, 2011 at 9:11 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Cam

    does anyone notice that the libyan rebels are always smiling, they dont look like hardened fighter, and we never see pictures of them fighting just like chillin, whats up? i dont believe they actually doin s**t.

    March 23, 2011 at 9:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • Over It

      Let's face it. They aren't "soldiers". They are kids who have been given weapons to play with.
      I wonder if they know what they are actually fighting for. Do they know what the next regime will look like? No doubt it will be pay back time (as this is in fact a tribal war).

      March 23, 2011 at 10:42 pm | Report abuse |
  11. kelsey shannon

    the world needs world peace

    March 23, 2011 at 9:16 pm | Report abuse |
  12. gmanfortruth

    Obama must be impeached! He broke every law we have concerning a president. This breaks it down: http://gmanfortruth.wordpress.com/2011/03/23/impeach-obama-no-way/

    March 23, 2011 at 10:02 pm | Report abuse |
  13. bbarc

    Do not remember the former things.
    Nor consider the things of old.
    Behold, I will do a new thing,
    Now it shall spring forth;
    Shall you not know it?
    I will even make a road in the wilderness
    And rivers in the desert.
    Isaiah 43:18,19

    March 23, 2011 at 10:13 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Rachel

    omg this news is breaking!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    March 23, 2011 at 10:27 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Over It

    Who are these "rebels"? What do they stand for? Will their regime be just as bad as Gadhafii?
    The "No Fly Zone" enforcement has gone way past its mandate. It has now been disclosed by the rebels that they are in fact "calling in strikes" on Gadhafi forces. This kind of action is aimed at tipping the military balance in favour of the rebels. Which is certainly not part of the UN resolution which created the No Fly Zone.
    The so called rebels are making accusations that are just as wild as Gadhafi, in order to win support from the international community. If the rebels don't want town's reduced to rubble, then why are they hiding in them?
    This boils down to being a tribal conflict. A civil war. Let's leave them to sort it out amongst themselves.

    March 23, 2011 at 10:29 pm | Report abuse |
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