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. Paul Girgenti

    OK, Didnt Obama rip apart Bush for getting us into conflicts such as this one? So now a BILLION DOLLARS later we are fighting on THREE FRONTS!!! Why can we not stay out of this one? It is the reason that our country is hated around the world. We just dont mind our business. We have troubles at home. We do not need to spend the money on this. This isnt the United States of 20 years ago.

    March 23, 2011 at 3:14 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Kamal

    I recommend that all of you with some common sense watch John Stewart's segment on our (US) Freedom Packages aired ~ 2 night back. As usual, John's making a mockery out of our foreign policies however, he makes a darn good point.

    March 23, 2011 at 3:15 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Adaptable Dan

    The poll is not true, most Americans are against any western action in Libya. Everything would have ended this past weekend, now the bloodshed will continue because the world is protecting Alcaida. Bin Laden's people will receive weapons that will be used against us in the future. No one that is attacking Libya cares for the civilian population, its a farce, they are not interested in the oil; they just want to prolong the world at war.

    March 23, 2011 at 3:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • freeman

      What is your source that most Americans oppose it? Please cite it here.
      Also, what is "Alcaida"? Is it like an Alpaca?

      March 23, 2011 at 3:42 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Newly Enlightened

    As an American I can say that, no, I have not lived in a country, such as Lybia, where the life-stlye is much different nor have I lived under a dictatorship but that does not mean that I am ignorant towards the people who do. I would like to experience, to know more, to feel for once the way some of you do and what you fight for, regardless of what that may be. Do not think that Americans are terrible people. The government and the people that represent us and the decisions they make, along with their actions, are not always supported by the citizens and armed forces. We are not brain-washed as many have claimed (which I find slightly offensive) and myself along with others will continue to support foreign people that seek help. My actions are not dependent on my government

    March 23, 2011 at 3:18 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Siroy

    Well to begin with the current UN policy on helping the people of Libya at thier request is correct. But what is puzzling is yesterday thier leader was making statements on tv. With all that is involved with the production of such an event. That information wasn't sent to the powers in charge and a attempt to kill him wasn't tried. This seems to be a limited attempt action. If they want him dead then kill him and not watch him on tv.

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

    If the libyans are ok with this.. then they'll be ok with the price tag on the whole thing. Iraq should also pay for our whole intervention there as well. As trump said.. lets take that oil and erase our debt completely. Otherwise Iran's just going to move in and take it anyway.

    March 23, 2011 at 3:26 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Mike T.

    Randi Kaye in reporting on the ships stationed off Libya reported that the USS Harry carries 286 thousand officers. She was reading off the screen that showed 2860 with a crew of 22. She didn't even catch it. What a shame.

    March 23, 2011 at 3:26 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Julius

    What is the press feeding the SHEEPS!!! That more Americans support the Libyan intervention? I can't believe it. This is why the American Press loses its credibility more and more. Where was NATO during the Yugoslavian conflicts? Million have died!!! The US was reluctant to get into this so called Libyan intervention but was force by its allies. We were the last to engage in this so called No FLY ZONE. Libya is Europe's Iraq. France, Britain, Switzerland etc..get their Oil to power their country from Libya. NATO was adamant about it's action that France and Britain led it. Since when did France took the initiative to lead? I ask again where was NATO during all the conflicts of the world were millions of people are being genocide? Libya, Khadafi just trying to sell his oil to the highest bidder. Notice how China and Russia opposes the NATO resolution? Wake up fellow Americans!!! This is not about the Democrats or a Republican thing. It is about our Country, our civilization and our liberty. Do not let the news fools you. You are more intelligent than that.

    March 23, 2011 at 3:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • freeman

      It is a UN resolution, not a NATO resolution. Big difference.

      March 23, 2011 at 3:44 pm | Report abuse |
  9. KK

    We never have any money for anything for the American people. But, we ALWAYS have money for attacking other countries. I guess the citizens of this country really don't matter after all. Where are all you tea party kooks who are always ranting about wasteful government spending. Oh, I forgot, the tea party only is in favor of helping corporations that produce war products!! America has become the modern day Nazi Germany!!

    March 23, 2011 at 3:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • freeman

      So, you've been thrown in a concentration camp by the US government recently? How mentally challenged you are. Anyone left who lived through the horrors of Nazi Germany should be be allowed to run you over with a sherman tank for that ignorant comment.

      What you're really saying, is "my wallet is more important that the wholesale slaughter of thousands in Libya, because their skin is brown and they don't speak English."

      March 23, 2011 at 3:50 pm | Report abuse |
  10. JonasMayhem

    ....while many, many Libyans are safer, many, many, many Americans are poorer.
    Clinton and Obama are idiots. If this doesnt finish off what is left of the economy, $6 gas will.

    March 23, 2011 at 3:29 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Jerome

    Isn't she the one who stated she'll have them home in 90 days if elected?

    March 23, 2011 at 3:37 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Jay

    First we should not be there. We cant afford another "front". Now why are we there guess. OIL. Yup

    We had an air base in Libya and were asked to leave we did. Now the "opposition" who ever they are wants us back. Do I approve of a no fly zone no. I voiced my opinion to my senators and congressman. Guess what. The prez without consulting congress did what he wanted to. Bah

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

      Except that the US doesn't get ANY of its oil from Libya. I guess you'll have to move on to your next crackpot theory.

      March 23, 2011 at 3:51 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Insanity

    Is everyone insane? Who are the 47% that agree with this? If you read deeper into the Gallup poll, you find that almost as many democrats agree with this action as republicans. What that clearly says is that democrats support the action ONLY because they support Obama. The same type of blind loyalty that Bush supporter's had, leading us into the Iraq war. This is crazy because how on earth can we possibly jump in every time a dictator is attacking his own citizens? What about the people in Yemen? And Syria? And Iran? And countless other countries. Why are we involved in Libya and not these other countries? We need to worry about our own citizens first, unless there is an imminent threat of harm to the American people. Stop with trying to fix everything in the world!!!!!

    March 23, 2011 at 3:42 pm | Report abuse |
  14. lefty avenger

    War still blows!

    March 23, 2011 at 3:46 pm | Report abuse |
  15. JoshZ

    Note: I wish VP Biden would say now what he said about Bush's War 10 years ago.

    March 23, 2011 at 3:47 pm | Report abuse |
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