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. woodsnut

    i think now is the time for the coalition forces to drop the rebel some modern weapons and ammo,then maybe they would stand a chance to liberate the rest of libya and have a fighting chance against the countries troops.we need to help the rebels turn the tide here and it will then help our forces to tone done the air i know that all these anti americans on here posting won't agree with me about dropping arms to the rebels but we have gone to the point we are now,lets go a little further,if we dont put a stop to this here then we are opening the door for a third world war in which the united states will be at the forfront i'm going to sit back and laugh at all the fools that will comment on this post.

    March 23, 2011 at 10:44 am | Report abuse |
    • GnatB

      Those who do not study history are condemed to repeat it.

      Afghanistan Mujahadeen anybody?

      March 23, 2011 at 4:12 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Me

    @KT: I don't know how often you blog on here, but I can assure you there are quite a few people whom wanted the US/UN to take action against Gadhafi. Now the bombs are dropping and people are flipping their calls for isolation. In Egypt there wasn't a need for military intervention, because their protests were largely peaceful and the military was on the side of the people. Libya is different and if there's a chance for democracy there then we should help those whom seek it. Sorry the people in your little bubble don't want any US action. Many people do.

    March 23, 2011 at 10:50 am | Report abuse |
    • Over It

      That's great, but are you sure the Rebels are going to put together a democracy?
      Libya used to be occupied by disparate tribes. Gadhafi's regime pulled these tribes together. Guess what's going to happen when Gadhafi departs.

      March 23, 2011 at 11:05 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Me

    *sorry* flipping TO calls for isolation.

    March 23, 2011 at 10:53 am | Report abuse |
  4. 4everpeace

    actions speak louder than words. from what i'm seeing, no party, in this farce of wits wants peace, one hides in a bunker, the rest hide behind brave words and diplomatic tactics and strategies called international laws.

    if all parties concerned really aim at peace they have the utmost power to meet and discuss round a table.

    this will sadly not end here and the EU and US have to pay the consequences. poor us civilians.

    March 23, 2011 at 11:00 am | Report abuse |
    • freeman

      You can't have a discussion when one side won't come to the table. The same side that is killing his own people by the thousands. Diplomacy is preferable, but sometimes force is unavoidable, at least if you care about those losing their lives.

      March 23, 2011 at 3:22 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Mkb

    As an Aussie, I say ALL you Americans opposing action in Libya should be ashamed of yourselves. I ask you, how many human beings have to die before you change your tune? is it 10000? is it a million?. Have some morale decency and stop placing your own financial well being above the value of human life. America and the coalition are the only ones that can do something about this AND they are doing it because there is an alternative opposition To the decent Americans AND non Americans supporting this, I applaud you all, you are the future of humanity

    March 23, 2011 at 11:00 am | Report abuse |
    • 4everpeace

      it's all about the OIL mate and the billions of dollars which go to a few individuals including the gaddafi family but other big european and i believe american companies too.

      i agree with you 100%

      March 23, 2011 at 11:08 am | Report abuse |
    • freeman

      Totally agree, Mkb.

      And 4everpeace, America gets 0% of its oil from Libya. So there goes your lame theories about American oil companies.

      March 23, 2011 at 3:25 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Warren Dodge

    show him how that worked out for Saddam. He was laughing all the way to the gallows.

    March 23, 2011 at 11:00 am | Report abuse |
    • John macintyre

      Warren , ya , and years later we are no closer to victory. I really wonder who is laughing.

      March 23, 2011 at 6:44 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Predator_Hunter

    The globalist will win this war, as we always do. Destroy the middle class, enslave nations under the new world order and free the world from tyranny. Vote extreme Republican.

    March 23, 2011 at 11:04 am | Report abuse |
  8. Gaddafi's Bodyguard

    long live the Jamahiriya
    Long Live Gaddafi and his Green Book

    March 23, 2011 at 11:08 am | Report abuse |
    • freeman

      Wow, you're just at Nutty as your Boss...

      March 23, 2011 at 3:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bob

      How can I get in on some of that virgin action, dude? Seriously...don't want to kill or hurt anyone....just want to hang out and take advantage of some of the spoils.

      March 23, 2011 at 6:35 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Patrick Agbobu

    Yes Libya will be another Iraq and the West will be humuliated and they will regret their action and double standards. Caddafi the other truth is that you too will end up like Saddam Hussien. For crying out loud you have ruled Libya for 43 whole years, is that not too long a period? Caddafi you could have left the sage when the ovation is very high and that could have been so many years ago. Afican leaders especially self imposed leaders do not know when to quit.

    March 23, 2011 at 11:32 am | Report abuse |
    • Mkb

      Tell me, why will the West regret saving the lives of thousands of innocents? (presumably your talking about the US, since the 'west' was not involved in Iraq..).

      March 23, 2011 at 11:47 am | Report abuse |
  10. Andrew D

    The years of indifference these people have suffered under this mans rule, reminds me that, sooner or later people with indifference toward another, of race culture or what ever ignorant reasoning they hold to, will eventually reap there just due. No one seen this coming, just as those who continue to be of indifference toward another, will not know the day or time of there demise.Llong live the openminded, and down trotted. sad but true

    March 23, 2011 at 12:28 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Drifter

    If the governments of the world would just hand out pot, everyone would would be happier and an era of peace would ensue. I see things so much clearer now lol.

    March 23, 2011 at 12:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • parkmore

      I guess before giving lousy opinions, you should know what's going on. There is a civil war overt here and obama and the stupid sarkosy will make it worse. There are 50% with Gadafi and 50% against. What the scenario here, are you ready to kill 50% (3 millions)?????? I am so disappointed that obama did not came up with another strategy and he should focus on the economy here, which is bad and worse. There are a lot of education programs budget cut and NIH budget cut......... Sham on you obama

      March 23, 2011 at 2:09 pm | Report abuse |
  12. ConfusedGrandma

    I wish there was oil in Darfur, seems to me the people there would be more worth saving if there was. Otherwise why else would we be in Libya? Hmmmmmmm

    March 23, 2011 at 1:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • parkmore

      I agree

      March 23, 2011 at 2:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • American Idiot

      There is actually SOME oil in Darfur, though not as much. A bigger commodity they are missing is video cameras. If we don't see images on our computer screens or TV's, we don't care as much. We are not as outraged, we do not demand action.

      March 23, 2011 at 2:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • freeman

      US does not import Libyan oil.

      But I guess since Libya does have oil, we need to intervene in every other conflict on earth in non-oil-producing nations first, so people won't get the wrong idea, right?

      Too bad for the Libyan people being killed by their own military, though.

      March 23, 2011 at 3:31 pm | Report abuse |
  13. PeteW

    The people in those cities that Qaddafi was going to annilate all shouldJoin in the fracasand so should ones in Masatra and anywhere else . Th airpower over them clearing the way to eliminate all Tanks and Rocket launchersprovide them with arms needed to win and do away with Qaddafi.
    last night Qaddafi blatantly stood in a bombed out building ,surelythere are predators available tohit him with out killing alot of his forced sheilds. a sniper could hit him easily

    March 23, 2011 at 1:35 pm | Report abuse |
  14. parkmore

    The Interior Minister, Claude Gueant, denounced Wednesday, March 23 before the National Assembly, a "manipulation" he recalled the attacks he been since he used the word "crusade" to About the preparation for armed intervention in Libya. "I said: 'Fortunately, the President has been leading the crusade to mobilize the Security Council [UN), and you translate it by saying that I preach the crusade in Libya, even I read it statements in your first secretary [Martine Aubry], I was preaching the crusade of the West against the East. Well it is a manipulation, "he said in response to a question from Socialist Christian Paul.

    Earlier, Martine Aubry had tackled the Minister on RTL: "When we talk of a crusade, it's scary, it is a profound error analysis, it is a political error is an error of amateur too, it must be said. "


    The intervention of the first secretary of the PS had already triggered a response by Laurent Wauquiez, who came to the rescue of Claude Gueant: "It spoke only of the driving force of our diplomacy and France [in the case Libya], and diplomatic efforts have been made that we should all be proud, "said Wauquiez. According to the Minister of European Affairs, Martine Aubry had a "position which is unworthy caricature about Claude Gueant.

    The former first secretary of the Socialist Party, Francois Hollande, added Wednesday: Claude Gueant used "the word he should not pronounce" and "would have done better to remain silent," he said on France 2.

    Beyond the PS, François Bayrou has seen a "mistake" by Claude Gueant: "It is dangerous to make policy without knowing the history and mentality of the people. The word crusade is a rallying of all shades Muslims against the West, "said President of the modem, called for" Information Matters "LCP-France-Info said. "If you want to gather around all the sensitivities that Gaddafi is seeking to reach, use that word!" He added.

    JUPPÉ RECOGNIZES AN "clumsiness"

    The remarks in the heart of the controversy were made by Claude Gueant Monday night at Talk Orange-Le Figaro: The Minister praised the diplomatic efforts of Nicolas Sarkozy when "the world was about to contemplate the TV massacres committed by Colonel Qadhafi. " Certainly, Claude Gueant did not use the word "crusade" to discuss the military operation against Qaddafi himself. The fact remains that the word "Crusaders" was used by the Libyan dictator to talk about the coalition he faces. Also, the Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin spoke of his skepticism about intervention in Libya by comparing it to "calls for a crusade in the Middle Ages."

    Questioned by the press about the parliamentary Claude Gueant, Alain Juppe replied: "That is not the main thing is a mistake. It has nothing to do with what happens. Let dedicate ourselves on the essentials and not on the accessory. The essential today is that if we had not done what we did, there would have been a bloodbath in Benghazi and that today, we move forward. "

    March 23, 2011 at 2:04 pm | Report abuse |
  15. parkmore

    Libyan air force 'no longer exists' Sham on you obama. That's how you work on economy here. You destroy almost everything in Libya and expecting the next government will buy what you destroyed. Sham on you and will speak up for ONE TERM

    March 23, 2011 at 2:14 pm | Report abuse |
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