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. American Idiot

    I can't help but think that Reagan would have levelled the playing field with airstrikes the very moment that Gadhafi call in his first air attack. And he wouldn't have asked for permission from the Security Council or the Arab League. Obama was too slow. If you wait this long, don't do it at all.

    March 23, 2011 at 2:20 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Bob

    Hard to believe that the armed rebels are not just U.S. hating militants from surrounding countries. The mindless sheep in the U.S. seem to be focused on Gadhafi. Why is it so clear that overthowing Gadhafi is in the best interests of the U.S.? And if it is not clear, why is the U.S. spending 100 million a day and risking U.S. lives?

    March 23, 2011 at 2:27 pm | Report abuse |
  3. I_AM_CANADIAN

    Europe and the international community have to step up this time, the US can't afford to do much more. You guys are already in debt to China so far it's horrible. France is the one who pushed this no-fly zone and struck first, let them lead. The problem with that is the Italians moaned like women about that because France would get oil contracts in Libya. What a joke Italy is, their tanks only have 1 gear....reverse!!!! Europe has to grow a pair and back up the Libyan people. I personally would like Canada to stay and help as well, as we're not in Iraq and we are USA's allies, it's the least we can do. All I can say is that I'm proud to be USA's ally, and I'm so proud of you guys for what you've already done in Libya. Now it's the world's turn to do the rest. Besides even though you guys are helping Libya, when it's all said and done they will find a reason to hate USA again for religious reasons. God Bless the US of A, we love u guys never forget that. We'll always be your hat as long as you continue to be our shirt! LOL Cheers to all.

    March 23, 2011 at 2:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • Newly Enlightened

      I am lucky to have you as my hat, Sir. 😀

      March 23, 2011 at 3:27 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Charles Napier

    How is this ok the action in Lybia want to know how out of it the US government is. The government accounting office set forth a proposal to stop producing one dollar bills. This would say 5.5 billion over 30 years. Meanwhile the iraq war costs 10 billion a month. Does this sound like dumb logic or what.

    March 23, 2011 at 2:30 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Kyle

    If you are in favor of our involvement in Libya then you are an idiot and deserve to suffer from our stifle economy. I on the other hand would rather OUR country has everything it needs.

    March 23, 2011 at 2:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • freeman

      Yes, if we could increase the Dow by one point, it would be so much more important to the thousands of humans in Libya being slaughtered by their government. To sum up your comments "I got mine, screw the rest of you!"

      March 23, 2011 at 3:38 pm | Report abuse |
  6. MJ

    Bush was jus to finish the unfinished job of his father; Obama is just to finish the unfinished job of .....

    March 23, 2011 at 2:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • freeman

      Reagan.

      March 23, 2011 at 3:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • bbarc

      To freeman: You're right, the actor and his cronies set the stage for Bush I & II and the same cronies! Thank goddness Cheney is sort of gone. I know he still a huge player in Haliburton-but @ least I no longer have to see his rotten face daily. I do believe that McCain would have had the same reaction as Obama as well.

      March 23, 2011 at 9:32 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Snarky

    It's *shame*. S H A M E. Sham is a completely different word.

    March 23, 2011 at 2:42 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Mick

    Our country appears more war hungry than ever. Why did Obama start the bombing? We are already in 2 wars. There can be no good result. Once you get in you cant get out. Reminds me of Brer Rabbit and the tar baby.

    Not only is it morally wrong, and stupid policy, but our jets flying every day must cost millions of dollars. I bet 10 million a day per jet. I bet it costs more per day to fly our jets than it costs to fund corporation for public broadcasting in one year.
    Where are the outraged teaparty and conservatives now?

    March 23, 2011 at 2:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • Darryl Schmitz

      I agree, Mick. We ought to just change the name of the Department of Defense back to what it was before: the Department of War.

      March 23, 2011 at 3:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • Namla

      .. the only thing we're exporting these days is war. Everything else comes from China. It truly is a "brave new world" (circa Bush I).

      March 23, 2011 at 7:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • JackNukeMaster

      This is about imperialism and power! It has nothing to do with humanitarian aide or making a NO FLY ZONE. It is a BS excuse to go in there and play Hitler. You don't see anything happening about Yemen or Syria. Why? Because we will lose if we start going after all those Arab countries, so we go after the one that has the most use to us and that is Libya. Now when I say us, I am not just talking about the US, but NATO and the UN and the IC. They are trying to pave the way to keep order and that is to get this One World Order or govt. Started which has already been discussed and was bound to happen sooner or later. We as Americans are going to be the butt end of our own disaster from all of this. Wait and see! Then when it happens you can turn back and say Dang jackNukeMaster was right. Either way we will have the war brought here. jg

      March 23, 2011 at 7:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • woodsnut

      hey jack its funny how all you can do is copy and paste the same letter over and over,try watching all the news channels on here and seeing the big picture instead of the little picture u see.and if your from thr U.S. maybe we should deport you back to where u came from

      March 24, 2011 at 1:48 am | Report abuse |
    • bbarc

      The spirit if the Lord GOD is upon Me,
      Because the LORD has anointed Me
      To preach good tidings to the poor;
      He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted,
      To proclaim liberty to the captives,
      And the opening of the prison to those who are bound.

      Isaiah 61:1

      March 24, 2011 at 1:58 am | Report abuse |
    • socrates

      This is not a full scale war anyway. call it war when ground forces are deployed, which is not happening. As i mentioned again, part of the $30 billion of Libya’s assets which are frozen by the U.S government will pay for the cost of operation. The Libyans can afford it. The whole country is floating on a sea of oil.

      March 23, 2011 at 7:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • JackNukeMaster

      This is about imperialism and power! It has nothing to do with humanitarian aide or making a NO FLY ZONE. It is a BS excuse to go in there and play Hitler. You don't see anything happening about Yemen or Syria. Why? Because we will lose if we start going after all those Arab countries, so we go after the one that has the most use to us and that is Libya. Now when I say us, I am not just talking about the US, but NATO and the UN and the IC. They are trying to pave the way to keep order and that is to get this One World Order or govt. Started which has already been discussed and was bound to happen sooner or later. We as Americans are going to be the butt end of our own disaster from all of this. Wait and see! Then when it happens you can turn back and say Dang jackNukeMaster was right. Either way we will have the war brought here. Power Trip

      March 23, 2011 at 7:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • omambia

      Can someone tell Mr. Obama to return the Nobel Peace award. A no fly zone does not mean attacking col. Gaddafi's compound, or is Gaddafi himself a plane. How will Obama feel if his house was to be hit by a missile and his family is sent flying apart by the impact. Now NATO has estimated half a billion dollar budget in this Libyan crisis. If the opposition win, Libya will pay for that budget.

      March 24, 2011 at 2:50 am | Report abuse |
    • bbarc

      To ALL believers, take comfort., and spread his word. "And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not troubled; for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet." Mathew 24:6

      March 23, 2011 at 9:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mobius007

      الله أكبر

      March 23, 2011 at 9:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • freeman

      Um, Obama didn't start the bombing. The UNITED NATIONS did, carrying out UN Resolution 1973.
      The Arab League called upon the UN to pass this resolution, along with the newly resigned Libyan ambassador to the UN, several other Libyan diplomats who broke ties with Qaddafi, and representatives of the Libyan Opposition itself.

      I don't see how its morally wrong to try and stop Qaddafi from slaughtering any more of his people. He has killed thousands already. Helicopter gunships raining down death on protesters armed only with signs and slogans. Does any of that come into play morally?

      March 23, 2011 at 6:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • JackNukeMaster

      This is about imperialism and power! It has nothing to do with humanitarian aide or making a NO FLY ZONE. It is a BS excuse to go in there and play Hitler. You don't see anything happening about Yemen or Syria. Why? Because we will lose if we start going after all those Arab countries, so we go after the one that has the most use to us and that is Libya. Now when I say us, I am not just talking about the US, but NATO and the UN and the IC. They are trying to pave the way to keep order and that is to get this One World Order or govt. Started which has already been discussed and was bound to happen sooner or later. We as Americans are going to be the butt end of our own disaster from all of this. Wait and see! Then when it happens you can turn back and say Dang jackNukeMaster was right. Either way we will have the war brought here. xout

      March 23, 2011 at 7:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • zeusiswatching

      The Arab League asked for this? Yeah, and they are doing virtually no fighting. The U.S. is being suckered into doing most of the warfare. Look at what little the Arabs are contributing. If most of the Arabs are only contributing humanitarian relief, why can't we just do that too?

      March 23, 2011 at 8:10 pm | Report abuse |
  9. chfexec

    Obama is totally out of his element and clearly has no idea what to do. Great article on this by JT on http://www.alittleleftofright.com

    March 23, 2011 at 2:54 pm | Report abuse |
  10. the_dude

    Sing along with me.......KILLING IS GOOD KILLING IS GREAT WHEN WE DO IT. KILLING IS GOOD KILLING IS GREAT WHEN THE DNC SUPPORTS IT. AS LONG AS IT IS NOT A REPUBLICAN IN CHARGE KILLING IS ALL GOOD. KEEP THE WAR MACHINE ROLLING AND PROFITS COMING IN.

    March 23, 2011 at 2:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bob

      What's the tune?

      March 23, 2011 at 6:37 pm | Report abuse |
  11. KK

    We should let Gadhafi kill all of the rebels. He's doing us a favor. The people we are protecting are the same people that go to bed chanting "Death to America". Why are we wasting money we don't have on an issue that we should not be sticking our noses in anyway!! Americans are truly stupid!!

    March 23, 2011 at 2:55 pm | Report abuse |
  12. AKM

    I see the trend that countries like North Korea and Iran in huge need of nuclear weapon. Otherwise, it will be the same aggression against Western countries. Cost of the gas in US this summer will be $10/gallon, so everyone can forget about economy recovery – USA is going toward Great Depression II.

    March 23, 2011 at 2:59 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Caesar

    Caesar needs his people to go to the Colosseum to watch the gladiators. If there is no battle the the people will get restless.

    March 23, 2011 at 3:06 pm | Report abuse |
  14. JohnM

    Another big mistake to get involved in something where we have no business being. The outcome will not be positive and we are draining our country's resources and dollars.

    March 23, 2011 at 3:07 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Doo-det

    If we need more funding for this why don't we strip these politicians of some of their perks like the gov. of Wis. did to
    his trade workers

    March 23, 2011 at 3:08 pm | Report abuse |
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