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. broker200

    I think we need to attack a non-muslim country just to mix it up a bit and not seem like we're just focusing on them. I'm thinking Slovenia.

    March 23, 2011 at 4:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • conoclast

      How about Arizona?

      March 23, 2011 at 7:04 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Augustus Fuller

    Considering most Americans can't locate Libya on a map and have no idea what DC does or why it does things- I really don't care what "most Americans" think about any topic. They just hurl stuff at us- tell us some reason- which they increasingly don't even care if they make sense anymore- and then a magic "poll" is published showing how- surprise "most Americans" approve of their actions. Whatever. We are choking on lies in this country. Lies atop lies atop lies.

    March 23, 2011 at 4:57 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Mike Linsky

    Did you honestly believe that those who run the show were going to put in a president that would change what their true agenda is? Come on, how stupid are you? Especially the democrats...there is too much money to be made to be socialists you morons!

    What did you think was going to happen with the UN...we are all peacekeepers who hand out food to starving hoo... You don't think the French, who have been some of the most violent of history, are just going to sit by when Muslims start burning cars in the middle of their streets? No....We are ALL hoping that the Middle East goes up in flames and now, even the citizens in the Middle east are tired of the radicals and dictators.

    The time for change is now but don't think it's going to be peaceful and your buddy Obama isn't who you think he is...

    I laugh in your direction because the time for you pacifists, gay lovers are over.

    Ha ha ha ha ha ha....I pitty you morons.

    March 23, 2011 at 5:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • showard

      Mike,are you a birther/conspiracy theorist? You need meds,dude. Seriously

      March 23, 2011 at 6:21 pm | Report abuse |
  4. DLR

    Its BS stories like this that prove everyone should read "Hell is an Awfully Big City"

    March 23, 2011 at 5:04 pm | Report abuse |
  5. CES69JEN

    I say we hit 'em...hit 'em hard...and hit 'em often. That said, the US, in my opinion, should have used guided missiles to knock out the air defenses. It then should have been the job of the Arab nations under American guidance to control the air. In addition, European Nations like France should have taken the lead in supporting Arab flights.

    Also, the United Nations should have already begun a list of Libyans leader's names which would be considered in the Hague's Tribunal Courts.

    March 23, 2011 at 5:09 pm | Report abuse |
  6. mm

    do you folks really believe this war is for innocent civilians? we have had boot on the ground with our allies for months. we are pushing a mass destabilization campaign in the mid-east/africa. It's like a broken record, yet I read massively ignorant comments that come straight from the propaganda mill. Tossing babies out of incubators, the gulf of tonkin (fake provocation that allowed 50K US youth to be killed in Vietnam), killing his own people...It called false flag – same way we overthrew Mossadaq in 1950's Iran. As far as the sweet crude – it's not for the US people. The US military are puppets for the the UN – a global cartel. We went to war on orders from the UN – we are no longer a sovereign state.

    March 23, 2011 at 5:12 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Kevin

    We need to get the F out of Libya. This has absolutely nothing to do with us, same with Egypt and all of these other revolutions. I can't believe Obama is acting like this, and I was one of his most staunch supporters. I'm at a loss of words, and sad for our dying country. I'm leaving this godforsaken country as soon as I finish school. Can you say New Zealand?

    March 23, 2011 at 5:15 pm | Report abuse |
  8. farag

    Hang on Hang on Dolce Vita , which tell you all this information, I hope you will not be published before any of the information is not verified, for any health and free education talk. Because he does not have any validity, there is my dear, that many, many ordinary people have died because they do not have the ability to travel to Tunisia or Egypt for treatment. Did you know that every day about 500 patients go for treatment in Tunisia, Egypt or Jordan. As you know education has been canceled Jamie study And Guide to the lack of health in Libya, Did you hear about children who are 500 children aged under 7 years were killed by injecting wrong. As for the houses and apartments you speak it I hope you watch television to see the huts where they live with people Allibiy. The unemployment rate is more than 30%. The salary if you are a teacher with 25 years of experience Your total income is 400 dinars, about $ 307 per month If you are an oil engineer Your total income is 1200 dinars, about $ 900 a month. Please note that all fields in the desert. With the knowledge that most students who study abroad at the expense of understanding of foreign oil companies to gain the trust of Ketatur. ...... Please note that the number of Libya's population only 6000000 and annual income to Libya because it is rich in oil and has the steel mills as well as the quality of sand Bacad to become the glass itself, it's all to make the income Libya about 100 billion each year where this goes ...... If the deal U.S. and coalition forces also claimed for oil, why all of the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Qatar will have the more oil from Libya, why do not pertain to the U.S. and fought them .... But this is only because their superiors
    Ieeshunhm provision from the State nor Barvunha African nations to call the king of the kings of Africa .................. sorry for riparian

    March 23, 2011 at 5:16 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Profyz

    Every tyrant of the world is our ally, keeps his loot in our banks, buys property for him and his cronies and relatives in our lands. Some of us would economically collapse if it is not for their money . A good example would be Britain which lives off of Arab money. Visit London neighborhoods of Bayswater and Edgeware Road and see the Arab bums sitting around in hoards drinking beer while their women parade around shopping in Hijabs. If you want to be more fashionable go to Harrods in Knightsbridge which is owned by Arabs and where they spend millions every month. Monte Carlo is another story. Western countries have come to depend on the dirty money of the Arabs ( and others ) at the cost of development of their land.

    March 23, 2011 at 5:17 pm | Report abuse |
  10. felary21

    Conspiracy theory on population controll?

    March 23, 2011 at 5:18 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Mark

    We need to take care of those at home and let the world do the same. The aged, infirmed, and the children of America are suffering and desperately need our attention. Those are just three good reasons to attened to our own affairs first and can anyone deny that or prove that we have taken care of them?

    We need to be America first not who ever is presently on or in the News.There are many reasons to get involved or not involved in foriegn affairs but name one reason why we shouldn't get involved in American Affairs.

    March 23, 2011 at 5:19 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Whatever Works

    James Bays, Al Jazeera's correspondent in Benghazi, said there is a "thank you" rally taking place there.
    People have gathered to thank Britain, France, the UN, and Qatar – the reason for it is to thank international nations that have taken part in this air campaign.

    March 23, 2011 at 5:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • Namla

      .. and these people are separatists who are tearing their country apart. Notice that they never make reference to people who are not part of their movement. Sort of like the Tea party. Ok, that was a cheap shot that I couldn't resist. Honestly, we should be more afraid of the self-centeredness of this group who are willing to destroy their country and see their countrymen killed elsewhere in Libya to bring about regime change. It's very much like what we experienced here during the civil war. More Americans lost their lives fighting each other than they did any any subsequent war.

      Americans killing Americans in the name of "freedom". We should be the teachers here, not the enablers.

      March 23, 2011 at 6:50 pm | Report abuse |
  13. david

    does the united nations now control the united states? also, when did a no fly zone mean 5 days of airstrikes. welcome to america, the nation of peace. 3 wars, more to come.

    March 23, 2011 at 5:21 pm | Report abuse |
  14. marcia

    We need a PRESIDENT! Let's have a vote!!! A country without a president
    is just wrong! We don't need a king...we need a president!
    And...a president with some brains and a love of his country!!!

    March 23, 2011 at 5:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • Namla

      .. I really agree with that Marcia. But then again, no one ever listens to the American people. They are only interested in our tax dollars, not our opinions.

      Libyans, arabs, and muslims aren't the only ones who need to be "liberated".

      March 23, 2011 at 6:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • Tom

      Why is it that all we hear from you people is that we need to have a VOTE on this action. We need to let the people decide. Where were you when George the first launched Desert Storm in 91. No vote there and nobody seemed to complain like you do. How bout when George the second launched Operation Iraqi Freedom (aka WMD, WMD, where are you WMD), nope no vote there and you were probably cheering him on. Hypocritical much???

      March 23, 2011 at 7:32 pm | Report abuse |
  15. david

    did everybody know the bakken oil field, the gull island oil field, the oil under the rocky mountains could end the national debt and end our dependence on foreign oil? these are facts people. the global elite are wating til oil is at 200 dollars a barrel and then they will double cross the arabs and wipe out any money you have left. look up lindsey williams on the alex jones show on youtube and you too will learn the facts.

    March 23, 2011 at 5:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • Tom

      You are right, there is a lot of oil in the US in different terrain (shoal, sand, etc.). Trouble is the cost to get it and produce a usable product is high, 100 to 150 per barrel. This would keep the cost of gas at the pump at 4 bucks on the low end. People are crying their eyes out now at 3.50 cause their F-15000000 gets 3 miles to the gallon and costs them 350 bucks to fill the tank.

      March 23, 2011 at 9:05 pm | Report abuse |
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