Libya live blog: NATO will enforce no-fly zone over Libya, secretary general says
Libyan rebels escort marchers in the streets of Benghazi on March 23 to show their support for a no-fly zone.
March 24th, 2011
07:52 PM ET

Libya live blog: NATO will enforce no-fly zone over Libya, secretary general says

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.

[7:52 p.m. ET Thursday, 1:52 a.m. Friday in Libya] White House Press Secretary Jay Carney issued a statement Thursday welcoming the "important contribution by the United Arab Emirates to the enforcement of U.N. Security Council Resolution 1973 in Libya," referring to the UAE's announcement that it will contribute 12 military aircraft to the operation. He added: "This critical participation by the UAE further underscores the broad, international support for the protection of the Libyan people."

[7:13 p.m. ET Thursday, 1:13 a.m. Friday in Libya] All 28 NATO allies have authorized military authorities to develop a plan for NATO to take on the broader mission of civilian protection under U.N. Resolution 1973, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Thursday. Clinton said she will travel to London to attend an international meeting on Libya on Tuesday.

[7:04 p.m. ET Thursday, 1:04 a.m. Friday in Libya] The international coalition is in control of the skies above Libya and humanitarian relief is beginning to reach people who need it, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Thursday.

The number of U.S. planes being used has decreased significantly while the number of non-U.S. planes has increased, she said. Troops have pushed back Gadhafi's forces but they remain "a serious threat to the safety of the people," Clinton said.

[6:45 p.m. ET Thursday, 12:45 a.m. Friday in Libya] Command of enforcing a no-fly zone over Libya is expected to be handed over to NATO by Sunday night, NATO sources told CNN Thursday.

[6:20 p.m. ET Thursday, 12:08 a.m. Friday in Libya] NATO has reached an agreement to take over the no-fly zone in Libya from the United States "in a couple of days," NATO's secretary general said Thursday.

"NATO has now decided to enforce the no-fly zone over Libya. We're taking action as part of the broad international effort to protect civilians," Anders Fogh Rasmussen told CNN's Wolf Blitzer. "We will cooperate closely with our partners in the region and welcome their contributions."

NATO is considering enforcing a wide range of measures called for by the U.N. Security Council resolution on Libya, including the protection of civilians from Gadhafi's ground forces, Rasmussen said.

Military authorities will decided which country will take the initial lead using the "already established chain of command," Rasmussen said.

[5:35 p.m. ET Thursday, 11:35 p.m. Thursday in Libya] The United Arab Emirates says it is committing planes and humanitarian effort in support of the U.N. resolution regarding Libya.

"In support of UN resolution 1973 The UAE is fully engaged with humanitarian operations in Libya. As an extension of those humanitarian operations the UAE Air Force has committed six F-16 and six Mirage aircraft to participate in the patrols that will enforce the No Fly Zone now established over Libya. UAE Participation in the patrols will commence in the coming days."

[5:29 p.m. ET Thursday, 11:29 p.m. Thursday in Libya] Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Mike Mullen, and DNI James Clapper will brief members of Congress next Wednesday on the situation in Libya, according to Speaker John Boehner's office. It will be a classified briefing.

[5:00 p.m. ET Thursday, 11:00 p.m. Thursday in Belgium] At the United Nations, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said he sees no signs of a cease-fire by Libyan government authorities. Ban told council members, "to the contrary, fierce battles continue in and around the cities of" Ajdabiya, Misrata and Zinan. Ban gave his briefing, as required by U.N. Resolution 1973, seven days after that resolution was passed by 10 votes and five abstentions.

[4:39 p.m. ET Thursday, 9:39 p.m. Thursday in Belgium] A tentative agreement for NATO to take over operations in Libya may be in jeopardy, CNN's Paula Newton reports. The Turkish delegation is not happy with the timing of the transition and wants the United States to give up command sooner than previously agreed upon. If a consensus is not reached in the next 20 to 25 minutes, talks will stop for the evening and resume tomorrow.

[4:23 p.m. ET Thursday, 10:23 p.m. Thursday in Libya] Airstrikes were carried out Thursday near Tripoli, Misrata and Ajdabiya, a Pentagon spokesman said. "The only civilian casualties we know are for certain are the ones that the Libyan government itself has caused," U.S. Navy Vice Adm. Bill Gortney said. In response to a question, he further said the U.S. military was not communicating with Libyan opposition forces.

[3:31 p.m. ET Thursday, 9:31 p.m. Thursday in Libya] Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Defense Secretary Robert Gates, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen and National Intelligence Director James Clapper will brief members of Congress on Libya on March 30, a Republican source said. The briefing will be classified, the source said.

[3:29 p.m. ET Thursday, 9:29 p.m. Thursday in Libya] A CNN team on the ground has reported hearing explosions and anti-aircraft fire in Tripoli.

[3:21 p.m. ET Thursday, 9:21 p.m. Thursday in Libya] U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said during a Security Council briefing that he sees no signs of a cease-fire by Libyan government authorities. Ban told council members that "fierce battles continue in and around the cities of" Ajdabiya, Misrata and Zinan. He added that his envoy to Libya told Libyan authorities that if the government did not comply with the cease-fire resolution, "the Security Council was prepared to take additional measures."

[3:10 p.m. ET Thursday, 9:10 p.m. Thursday in Libya] A deal has been reached for NATO to take command of the military mission in Libya in the coming days, two diplomatic officials said. The deal was reached after a conference call between U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and her counterparts from Britain, France and Turkey.

[2:42 p.m. ET Thursday, 8:42 p.m. Thursday in Libya] A doctor told CNN that 109 people have been killed and more than 1,300 wounded in the western Libyan city of Misrata over the past week.

[1:45 p.m. ET Thursday, 7:45 p.m. Thursday in Libya] The Libyan mission is a "time-limited, scope-limited" military action to protect civilians in Libya, White House spokesman Jay Carney said. "It is certainly not a large-scale, open-ended military action," he added, emphasizing that no ground troops or military invasion were involved. Asked earlier about criticism over President Barack Obama's consultations with Congress on the mission, Carney said the president "believes that he is the commander in chief and leadership requires him to take action where action will save lives." Carney cited a series of meetings, hearings and briefings by top administration officials, including Obama, with members of Congress. Had Obama not acted on Libya, Carney said, Moammar Gadhafi would control the rebel stronghold of Benghazi and large numbers of people would have been killed.

[1:04 p.m. ET Thursday, 7:04 p.m. Thursday in Libya] The United States still expects to hand over control of the Libya military mission within "days, not weeks," White House spokesman Jay Carney said Thursday.

[12:34 p.m. ET Thursday, 6:43 p.m. Thursday in Libya] French jets fired on a Libyan combat aircraft Thursday as it was landing at a military airfield in the western city of Misrata, the French Defense Ministry said. The Libyan plane was in violation of the no-fly zone, the ministry said. You can follow CNN's full coverage of the incident here.

[7:33 a.m. ET Thursday, 1:33 p.m. Thursday in Libya] A Misrata resident told CNN he heard a single large explosion within the past hour and pro-Gadhafi snipers were operating in the city, Otherwise Misrata was quiet Thursday, he said. He claimed that rebels remained in control of the port.  The resident also said there had been airstrikes on the outskirts of Misrata Wednesday night.

[7:28 a.m. ET Thursday, 1:28 p.m. Thursday in Libya] At least 30 French aircraft were engaged over Libya in the past 24 hours, the French Defense Ministry said.

[5:44 a.m. ET Thursday, 11:44 a.m. Thursday in Libya] Libyan state television showed footage of what they said were the charred bodies of 18 civilians and military officials killed in a coalition attack in Tajura. Leaders with the coalition forces have in the past refuted Libyan reports that civilians were killed by airstrikes. "It is not likely that civilians were a part of any airstrike today," said Joint Task Force Operation Odyssey Dawn Lt. Cmdr. Jim Hoeft.

[2:20 a.m. ET Thursday, 8:20 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.

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.

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."

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.

soundoff (373 Responses)
  1. Rudy NYC

    Why are the French seemingly so eager to engage Ghadafi?

    March 24, 2011 at 2:04 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Me

    @French Haters: I like the French. Sure they welcomed Hitler with open arms but that was one hiccup. There's lots of things we take for granted today that came from french assistance.

    March 24, 2011 at 2:17 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Schmidt

    The GOP weaken our country by criticizing the President at a time like this. They divide the nation when the world needs us to look strong. The right wing wants us to create a no-fly zone and when Obama complies they complain he didn't ask 'Pretty Please'. No wonder the world is confused at our actions. Grow up GOP and quit acting Anti-American.

    March 24, 2011 at 2:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ryan in Michigan

      Have you read the whole post, Schmidt? The Democrats were the first ones to critisize President Obama for acting without saying "pretty please". A Democratic Representative from Ohio, Kucinich, backed by one from Michigan (my state) even said his offense was punishable by impeachment. Grow up, little Liberal, and learn to read so you can really find out what's going on.

      March 24, 2011 at 2:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • tcollins

      Hey Ryan, the difference is that Kucinich is a bleeding heart who opposed all intervention. Some of the GOP were calling for intervention and are now whining about it because Obamas not doing it well enough. I think some have a legitimate gripe about his not getting authorization from Congress, but others (Gingrich "I would not have intervened") are being hypocritical and playing politics.

      However Schmidt, I disagree thst opposing the Prez makes you anti-American. That is the false charge the Bush administration laid on anyone who opposed the Iraq war. Debate is how democracy works.

      March 24, 2011 at 4:37 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Sean Hannity

    @Schmidt: How dare you criticize the GOP!? You're unpatriotic, unamerican and probably a terrorist sympathizer. Go hug a tree!

    March 24, 2011 at 2:22 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Trod

    Knock off all of the religous interpretations of what is going on in the world. We are where we are BECUASE of religion – Organized religion, of any demoination, is the most UN-peaceful organization on earth.
    Jesus = Santa Clause

    March 24, 2011 at 2:25 pm | Report abuse |
  6. PJ

    I wish they would just drop a few big cluster bombs on top of the Ghadafi compound and wipe out the whole family.

    March 24, 2011 at 2:30 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Bob

    I am trying to stay neutral in my views. However, isn't the two color flag with the crescent moon the flag of the militant Muslim brotherhood organization? Who is the U.S. actually backing here?

    March 24, 2011 at 2:36 pm | Report abuse |
  8. knowledge

    I think that some of the news coverage gives Gadhafi too much the story I saw last night that showed the Rebels were poorly armed....., one man with a plastic toy gun. That lets Gadhafi know that his army has little to worry about from the Rebels. And the constant reports that tell him he's not a target. I hope this is to smoke him out so we can take him......... whether by arrest or by a bomb, I don't really care which. Just get rid of him!

    March 24, 2011 at 2:46 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Chris McHale

    Degrading Ghaddafi's ability to wage war and stemming the the humanitarian slaughter through the UN resolutions seems like a clear enough goal to me. Some people seem to be salivating and wringing their hands so they can hear Obama state that another "clear" goal of the UN effort is removing the dictator from power, just want to open a can of worms in the Congress and derail the process. The air campaign should be able to render the Colonel's military punch useless and could do so to the point that he and his henchmen are out in the streets throwing rocks at the rebels.

    March 24, 2011 at 2:49 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Steve Graff

    Obama was criticized for failing to act. He garnered the support needed, and acted. Now, he is criticized for acting. And criticism is beyond irony, and laughable, given that republicans are calling his policy confusing and amateurish. This same criticism was nowhere to be seen in republican circles during the early stages of the Iraqi invasion despite that White House asserting a new reason each week to justify that war. And Gingrich: what an arrogant clown.

    March 24, 2011 at 2:53 pm | Report abuse |
  11. cissie

    I am wondering why it took so long to get any help to Misrata when for three days the people were being slaughtered there and were repeatedly calling for help????? This is where I think CNN could have helped , so much, by keeping the spotlight on them so that they might have gotten help sooner and saved many lives.

    March 24, 2011 at 2:54 pm | Report abuse |
  12. GW

    If the Arab League voted unanimously to setup a no-fly zone, why doesn't the Arab League enforce it.

    There are many Arab countries with Advanced fighter aircraft and weapons.

    To say that our coalition is made up of Muslum countries and it is just Qatar (where we base our 5th fleet) is a joke. Saudi Arabi and other Arab countries purchase advanced aircraft from us. Let them enforce the no-fly zone.

    The way it is setup now Gadhafi is claiming "crusader colonial aggression" (from

    America is blamed for Every Loss of Life no matter what side they are lost on.

    March 24, 2011 at 2:59 pm | Report abuse |
  13. snafu

    just joking bob -my censored last comment

    March 24, 2011 at 2:59 pm | Report abuse |
  14. tuchlu

    March 24, 2011 at 2:59 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Havildar

    What the heck are your talking about? Does not make sense.

    March 24, 2011 at 3:01 pm | Report abuse |
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