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. Noah Benzing

    Report out of Westpoint: It IS al-Qaeda that is being used to go after Gadhafi. The West and al-Qaeda, through
    Obama, are on the same side. Military actions of the West are playing into the hands of ideological enemies.
    Impeach Obama before it's too late.

    March 23, 2011 at 4:34 am | Report abuse |
    • de

      Your watching to much "Fox News" Dude. Slow down,your ESP is getting a little out there?

      March 23, 2011 at 11:04 am | Report abuse |
    • freeman

      I think he's actually reading the National Enquirer. Or maybe scribblings on public restroom walls.

      March 23, 2011 at 3:10 pm | Report abuse |
  2. cynd newb

    http://www.facebook.com/video/video.php?v=164339100288520
    This is the latest report from an eye witness in Benghazi. It gives an account of what transpired on Saturday and Sunday

    http://www.facebook.com/video/video.php?v=164339100288520

    the translation is as follows

    we are coming to tunis to talk about what is happening in tripoli
    we are far from tripoli 800 km ..we are masked ...because we are afraid ..even if we are

    far 800km ...can u immagine how the libyans in tripoli can live in fear ;
    i will speak of what is happening ;
    he is has beenn bombing 3 days continusiously al zinat
    alzawawiya ...
    qadafe took out the bodies from hospital to assemble them
    to show the media that these are victims of the coallition victims
    has disabled participation in the chat room.
    zintat is destroyed
    i hope my god take his soul and kills him
    alzawaye is destroyed

    March 23, 2011 at 5:11 am | Report abuse |
  3. cynd newb

    http://www.facebook.com/video/video.php?v=164339100288520

    the translation is as follows

    we are coming to tunis to talk about what is happening in tripoli
    we are far from tripoli 800 km ..we are masked ...because we are afraid ..even if we are

    far 800km ...can u immagine how the libyans in tripoli can live in fear ;
    i will speak of what is happening ;
    he is has beenn bombing 3 days continusiously al zinat
    alzawawiya ...
    qadafe took out the bodies from hospital to assemble them
    to show the media that these are victims of the coallition victims zintat is destroyed
    i hope my god take his soul and kills him
    alzawaye is destroyed

    March 23, 2011 at 5:13 am | Report abuse |
  4. TIME

    The age in which we live is one where oppression, injustice, killing, and violence are sometimes perpetrated in the name of freedom, or in the name of democracy, or in the name of peace, or in the name of Islam. We can only overcome this by raising the banner of love between us built upon our love for Allah and our love for His Messenger (SAW).

    March 23, 2011 at 5:46 am | Report abuse |
  5. Rubiclippers

    Why don't they stop messing around! They're going to turn this into another VietNam! Just get in there and take this madman out already. But what worries me is this... are we paving the way for Al Qaeda to take over Libya. ?? Are we doing their job for them? Saw picture on CNN of the fist with the crushed US Commercial aircraft in front of his compound.. If thats not enough reason in itself to take this nut out I don't know what is!

    March 23, 2011 at 6:01 am | Report abuse |
  6. cantueso

    Up to now, concerning Iraq and Afghanistan, the cost of the various missiles and planes and boms was were never mentioned. I thought it was maybe not polite to ask about the cost of these things. I also wondered whether perhaps it was being budgeted as foreign aid.......

    March 23, 2011 at 6:08 am | Report abuse |
    • faxbot

      You don't recall much of the Bush administration do you? he asked for millions upon Millions $$ every quarter without explaining what it was for only for the war on terror what did you think it was for LOL But he never had to xplain and now the records are all sealed up he is after all a republican they think they need no explainig thier actions LOLZ

      March 23, 2011 at 7:20 am | Report abuse |
  7. Leon Jaeger

    The US loves war, Keep on taking the Fluoride.... Sheeple news

    March 23, 2011 at 6:09 am | Report abuse |
    • freeman

      If by war, you mean humanitarian missions, then yes. Nobody likes a leader that murders his own people by the thousands.

      March 23, 2011 at 3:12 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Dagwood

    Leon you are weird. Are you on drags my dear friend or are you a lunatic.

    March 23, 2011 at 6:19 am | Report abuse |
  9. HelenHull102951

    The USA is being ran by a bunch of "BAFOONS AND IDIOTS", anyway they can keep spending our tax-dollars and keep our minds on anything but over-throwing this entire gov is exactly what their going to do!! This gov is as crooked and dishonest as next, so they keep us fighting over-seas so that we don't protest for a change in leadership and gov. "JUST DROP THE FREAKING DAISEY-CUTTERS AND MOVE ON!!!" And by the way, if anyone should be footing the bill for this action it should be the "ARAB LEAGUE"; THEY CALLED FOR THIS, THEY SHOULD PAY THE BILLS... Don't you agree? *Wayne*

    March 23, 2011 at 6:29 am | Report abuse |
  10. Nick

    If Dolce Vita is right, why have none of the news networks reported this? I am a bit skeptic, sorry Vita, sounds to good to be true.

    March 23, 2011 at 6:31 am | Report abuse |
    • GnatB

      I'm not all that skeptical. Typically, you get what you pay for.
      Free health coverage is cheap, if health coverage consists of a bandaid once a week.
      Free education is cheap, if it consists of a library card.
      Libya is one of the larger oil producers, but has a fairly small population. It would be fairly smart for any dictator type wanting to stay in power to simply "bribe" all his citizins in much that manner. (6 million population, how many billions in "personal" assets have been seized?)
      (I'd have to doubt the average salary thing though, or you'd probably end up with nobody actually doing ANY work, if you got paid just as much for not having a job as you'd get for having one, they'd all just take that money and do nothing all day)

      But, even if all true, a gilded cage is still a cage.

      March 23, 2011 at 4:06 pm | Report abuse |
  11. josephdd

    were are leaders of the African continent?/

    why are they quiet???????????
    those westerns ......they are not interested in the dying civilianss,,but the OIL which is in libya .
    when are we going to wake up people????????

    why didnt they go to ivory coast?????????????? and the others
    is it becouse there s nothing there valuable?????????????

    PLEASE THE AMERICANS, BRITAIN, FRANCE MUST STOP THIS HYPOCRICY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    MAY GOD PAY YOU BACK AS YOU GUYS DESERVE!!!

    BECOUSE YOU ARE NOT HELPING AS YOUR MOUTH SAYS .............BUT FIGHTING THE LIBYANS

    WHY THE FIGHTING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    HELP THE PEOPLE AS U SAY!!

    March 23, 2011 at 6:35 am | Report abuse |
    • freeman

      America absolutely NO oil from Libya. Thanks, but try again.

      March 23, 2011 at 3:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • marcia

      say what?????

      March 23, 2011 at 5:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • freeman

      That is, they GET absolutely no oil from Libya.

      March 23, 2011 at 5:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • bbarc

      Have hope for the leaders who made these choices.
      As far as the east is from the west,
      So far has He removed our transgressions from us.
      salm 85:2

      March 23, 2011 at 9:14 pm | Report abuse |
  12. masco

    We all need peace in this world but I think sometimes the way we approach issues are not good.I stand to be corrected,NO delegated where appointed to talk to Gaddafi by the UN but they've able to mobilise force to bomb LIBYA ,.
    What of what is happening in Cote' d'Ivoire the UN have abandon them.Is it because they have NO OIL to offer the WORLD.LETS THINK ABOUT IT

    March 23, 2011 at 6:38 am | Report abuse |
  13. HelenHull102951

    Oh, and as far as giving the oppisition the firepower it takes to complete their miission, give them what they need and that way the US and coalition forces won't have to put boots on the ground in yet another forengin country!! My thoughts only!! *Wayne*

    March 23, 2011 at 6:41 am | Report abuse |
  14. masco

    YES THEY ARE SOOOO MANY COUNTRIES FACING SIMILAR ISSUES LIKE LIBYA BUT WHAT IS THE UN DOING ABOUT IT.ALL WE KNOW IS,THE GREEDY RICH ALWAYS WANT TO GET RICHER.
    WHAT HAS HAPPENED TO IRAQ AND AFGAN AFTER THE INVASION LEAD BY AMERICA,ARE THEY HAVING PEACE. FOOD FOR THOUGHT

    March 23, 2011 at 6:44 am | Report abuse |
    • sasss31

      Your naivety kills me. So just because other countries are suffering and we cannot be everywhere at once we should not assist the Libyan people who are crying for our assistance and demanding to live in freedom?? Once people demand freedom and are about to suffer genocide, it is the moral necessity of free nations and free people to step up to the plate.

      March 23, 2011 at 6:48 am | Report abuse |
    • ConfusedGrandma

      like we've done in Darfur for example?

      March 23, 2011 at 1:37 pm | Report abuse |
  15. HelenHull102951

    And bring our troops home so we can do something about that crap-hole in Mexico!! That country deserves nothing more than a GOOD OLD-FAASHION AZZ WHOOP'IN... Bring our boys and girls home.. Then build up hundreds of "FOB'S" on the borders with orders to shoot to kill !!

    March 23, 2011 at 6:50 am | Report abuse |
    • bbarc

      How sad that your reaction to the violence and bloodshed is a call for more. I will pray for you. – AMY

      March 23, 2011 at 9:17 pm | Report abuse |
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